Nearly all of the desktop virtualization vendors have their own suite of management tools that don't fully integrate with your existing tools and lack the ability to effectively manage cross platform environments. But there is some momentum towards better integration between VDI products and Microsoft System Center.
VMware and Quest Software have both begun offering System Center integration for their VDI management products. But the degree to which System Center can be used to manage VMware View and Quest's vWorkspace is somewhat limited.
For example, organizations running Windows on their virtual desktops can use Microsoft's System Center Suite to manage virtual desktops running on Hyper-V. But if the virtual desktops are hosted on a non-Microsoft hypervisor, such as VMware vSphere, System Center might not provide the lower-level management capabilities that IT pros need -- such as the ability to monitor the VDI infrastructure's performance.
These limitations come down to a case of simple economics. VDI vendors invest a lot of money into developing their own management tools. As such, vendors prefer customers use their proprietary management tools rather than a Microsoft tool.
But there is an effort to make cross platform solutions more manageable. Microsoft created the System Center Alliance -- a group of vendors committed to offering add-ons for System Center or to design their products in a way that allows them to be managed with Microsoft's System Center Suite.
While not all System Center Alliance Members focus on desktop virtualization, some do -- including Citrix Systems, RingCube Technologies Inc., RES Software and AppSense. Virtual Computer also joined the Systems Center Alliance recently for its NxTop client virtualization product.
Virtual Computer's NxTop is a bare-metal client hypervisor that runs virtual machines directly on end users' laptops. Each desktop runs its own client hypervisor and the desktop operating system exists as a virtual machine.
Given Virtual Computer's approach to desktop virtualization, its partnership with Microsoft makes perfect sense. Network administrators can use System Center Configuration Manager to build virtual desktop images, which can then be deployed to end user computers. Because virtual desktop images are hardware independent, a single image can be deployed throughout the entire organization.
The benefits of using System Center with desktop virtualization products, such as NxTop, extend beyond virtual desktop deployment. IT pros can also use Systems Center to perform other common management tasks, such as collecting desktop hardware and software inventories.
While that type of integration with System Center benefits IT pros, it is safe to say that most of the VDI vendors who do choose to interoperate with Microsoft's System Center will continue to do so in a limited capacity, because at the end of the day, they want customers using their management tools.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies.