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If your VDI deployment suddenly has issues, would you know about it before your users started calling the help desk? You should, and VDI monitoring tools are there to help you.
Once companies successfully deploy virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments, IT administrators' attention turns to keeping that implementation humming along without downtime or performance issues that can affect end-user productivity. As with any monitoring approach, it is critical to make sure that all the underlying infrastructure components are monitored, including servers, wired and wireless network equipment, Internet connections, storage, application software, Web servers, mobile and desktop end-user platforms, and the VDI software itself.
That's a lot of moving parts to keep track of, but monitoring tools can help you keep an eye on it all. VDI-specific and unified monitoring tools watch your environment in different ways, and most companies benefit from having both types of products. Keep in mind that once you find problems in your infrastructure, you'll need to be able to fix them and manage components.
VDI monitoring tools
Many VDI vendors now have monitoring tools built specifically for VDI deployments. There's usually a point product for in-depth monitoring of specific infrastructure components, but there are also comprehensive monitoring frameworks that monitor every conceivable aspect of the VDI ecosystem.
Point products have a place in any monitoring arsenal, but it is crucial to evaluate the ease with which they can integrate alerts and monitoring data with other (non-VDI) systems and products. The days of running standalone monitoring tools that only do one thing well or don't play well with other components are long gone. Any VDI monitoring tool you purchase today should have robust capabilities for integrating with other monitoring, reporting and dashboard tools.
Unified monitoring tools
In contrast to specific VDI monitoring tools, unified monitoring products can be big-picture tools that monitor the totality of your IT environment. They pull all that monitoring data into a single repository for service-level agreement alerting and -- hopefully -- a single-pane-of-glass dashboard showing the status of the entire infrastructure.
Unified monitoring has come a long way. Today, there are unified monitoring tools that do an excellent job of monitoring VDI and non-VDI software and hardware components. But unified tools typically won't have the same breadth and scope of monitoring capabilities for VDI as point products do, which is why point products still have a place in your VDI monitoring playbook.
Managing vs. monitoring
I've spent a large chunk of my career working in what used to be called the systems management corner of enterprise IT. There, the goal was not just to monitor your IT infrastructure and applications, but also to be able to manage your VDI components.
It's one thing to detect an error condition or other anomaly in your VDI infrastructure. It's quite a bit more complex to be able to use your VDI management software to make changes to the configuration of those affected VDI components. That can be especially difficult when you are trying to manage a heterogeneous collection of VDI hardware and software components that might not be designed to let you manage them all via a common framework. Because of that, unified monitoring and management tools tend to offer much better integration between components and higher-functioning management capabilities.
Finally, remember that no other VDI metric is as important as the level of performance that end users experience, so be sure to pay attention to how users say VDI is working, too. Those of us who populate the monitoring trenches have at least one horror story about a time when VDI monitoring tools showed there were no issues, yet end users burned up the help desk support lines with complaints about poor performance. This common situation is exactly why performance monitoring is such a critical piece of the VDI puzzle.