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How VDI fits into the enterprise

Enterprises are taking more interest in VDI as they see how it can simplify the current corporate infrastructure. It's no panacea but rather, creates efficiencies.

Although IT shops have expressed interest in virtual desktop infrastructure technology in recent years, most of the conversations were restricted to whiteboard sessions and slideshows. But recently, enterprise customers have started to take more of an active interest.

The enterprise is perfect for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for a variety of reasons. For enterprises, the IT staff's pain comes not just from technological problems and concerns, but there are also management and business considerations.

Enterprise customers typically deal with the following:

  • Staffing concerns: Currently, there is a dedicated team of desktop support people that have a responsibility to maintain laptops, desktops and other computers located in offices and cubes.
  • User image management: There is a need for many different types of users to have a specialized image with the proper applications and configuration.
  • Security of end user data: The end users have the ability to access data from many locations without a centralized management system. To fix this today, an extremely expensive security layer needs to be applied to all data at many different levels.
  • General support concerns of the desktop: Today it takes a considerable amount of time to trouble shoot issues with end users, which force a sizable help desk to be manned.
  • Slow adoption of end-user technology: Due to roll-out methodologies today applications are not easily upgraded and deployed in a timely fashion. It becomes a major project to enable the end user.

When an enterprise takes steps to implement VDI these issues are addressed in the following manner:

  • Staffing concerns: While VDI does not reduce the need for an IT staff, it does allow for the proper use of IT personnel. Since the staff will not need to be roaming thorugh out cubes helping users, they can focus on the projects that count, such as new application deployments and daily maintenance tasks.
  • User image management: Utilizing VDI images can become standardized through the use of Active Directory GPO's and application virtualization. The image now can be simplified and have the user interaction controlled through applying the proper GPO to that user group.
  • Security of end user data: Now that the desktop will be centralized in the data center -- commonly on a NAS device or File share environment -- it becomes simpler for the administrative staff to implement security measures. The ability to keep data at the local desktop level becomes less likely.
  • General support concerns of the desktop: VDI enables the help desk to fully support every desktop remotely. This cuts down on the time frame for support of each user.
  • Slow adoption of end user technology: The introduction of application virtualization is the key to the adoption rate. By separating the application from the operating system, administrators can easily deploy application upgrades and new applications without affecting the desktop OS. This has always been the bottleneck of application deployments.

In the coming months as more enterprises adopt VDI into proof of concept and full installations we will see the discussion changing from "how can these issues be fixed" to "how can we scale out this VDI deployment." This will become a primary concern among enterprise VDI customers and the answer to this issue is simple: planning makes perfect.

About the author:
Brad Maltz is CTO of International Computerware, a national consulting firm focused on virtualization and storage technologies. He holds certifications from VMware and EMC for many technologies. Brad can be reached at bmaltz@iciamerica.comfor any questions, comments or suggestions.

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