freshidea - Fotolia

Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Why IT should consider turning to VDI in the cloud

IT pros should not be afraid of taking their VDI deployment to cloud. As long as they keep their users in mind and work with business stakeholders, it can be a success.

Many IT professionals fall into a dangerous trap of thinking that, just because they've always done things a certain way, that means they're doing it the right way.

That's a dangerous mindset, especially in the world of IT. It's time to keep an open mind. It's time to invest valuable time in understanding what it means to embark on a journey to the cloud and think about how cloud-based VDI, or desktop as a service (DaaS), can change the landscape around security, redundancy and even high availability within an organization.

Regardless of where IT is with VDI, it's critical to understand what's important when implementing VDI in the cloud.

Why choose VDI in the cloud

IT pros may want to consider DaaS for a few reasons. First, VDI in the cloud allows users to access their desktops during a disaster that affects their organization because the infrastructure housing the desktops is in a separate location. IT also doesn't have to shell out the upfront costs for the infrastructure to run VDI because the cloud provider already has it in place. The provider also takes many of the infrastructure management tasks, including security updates, out of IT's hands.

Change the mindset

An unwillingness to change will leave an organization vulnerable to failure and a target for attackers. IT pros must find a key stakeholder in the enterprise and get her on board with VDI in the cloud. With a key stakeholder as part of the decision-making process helping IT select the new platform for its approach, the project has a much better chance of succeeding.

In the process, IT must consider if it will virtualize all its workstations or just a select few. A quality brainstorming session is invaluable to the overall process and allows IT to figure out the scope of the project. If IT goes overboard on the number of cloud-based virtual desktops it needs, for example, it will spend more than it has to. If IT misses the mark too low, on the other hand, users might not be able to work with their desktops because performance is so slow, which will doom the project.

VDI in the cloud?

There are four key considerations to keep in mind when contemplating a move to VDI in the cloud:

Know thy user: Understanding how users work with the tools IT provides them is the first step. Get an understanding of the functions and features users expect. Know if they want a platform that looks similar to what they already have or if they would prefer a completely new direction. Some users may be accepting of a service interruption while IT moves their desktops to the cloud, while others expect a seamless experience that does not disrupt their workflows. A complete understanding of their users can go a long way toward IT pros making sound technical decisions.

Understand the existing technical deployment: IT must also understand the technical depths of its existing deployment to understand what resources it will require to support the business during and after the transition to DaaS. Every deployment has unique workarounds and special applications that may or may not be compatible with a cloud-based VDI platform.

When IT pros dive into the technical depths of their configurations, they should be sure to create technical configuration documentation if it doesn't exist already. This documentation will help the technical team with knowledge sharing and the overall success of the project.

Choose a cloud-based VDI offering: There are many different vendors, including Citrix, VMware and Microsoft, trying their hands at DaaS, but not all cloud offerings are equal. Some offerings are more mature than others. IT pros must research all cloud-based VDI offerings that look as though they could meet their criteria and business users' needs. If the services are going to change how users do their work, IT must be willing to set up training sessions.

If the business knows something is coming soon and informs IT upfront, it can prevent the technical mishaps.

Also, when choosing a cloud-based service, understand whether or not the option provides technical configurations, such as flash storage and graphics processing units (GPUs). Certain users, particularly those that work with heavy-duty graphics-intensive apps, will need these technologies to continue doing their jobs. Flash storage and GPUs have proven success with both on-premises and cloud-based VDI deployments.

Communicate with the business: During the entire process, be sure to maintain open communication with business stakeholders. Time and time again, businesses initiate cloud-based deployments without discussing it with IT. This creates a multitude of technical complications that could have been avoided through simple conversation. If the business knows something is coming soon and informs IT upfront, it can prevent the technical mishaps that come from having more than one cloud provider or multiples of the same technology.

Dig Deeper on Cloud-hosted virtual desktop and application strategy