Virtual Desktop Infrastructure VDI is hosting user desktops inside a virtual machine that runs on a server in the data center. It consists of software and hardware resources that deliver virtual desktops which users can access anywhere, anytime, and on any device. The purpose of VDI is to:
- Deliver a virtual environment with end-to-end monitoring and management efficiencies.
- Do away with IT red tape and ease operations through centralized application installation and patching.
- Boost security by hosting data and applications on a centralized server instead of end user devices. VDI also locks down computers so that malware, viruses or unauthorized software cannot penetrate IT systems.
- Improve data storage performance and system backups.
The Question of Cost
We are clear about the benefits of Virtual Desktop Computing. Now, bring the rising costs of maintaining, upgrading, repairing and replacing traditional desktops into the picture. Is it any wonder that companies want to know how more about VDI and what it can do for them?
However, even today, most businesses have second thoughts about moving to VDI because of the high costs they attach to it. To explain how this is actually not the case, let’s explore some key factors in a VDI setup. This will help us reach a better understanding of how this strategy actually saves money in the long run.
In reality, VDI requires proper planning and is worth investing in once businesses know when and how to implement it. So firstly, understand the elements and best practices in VDI, putting aside sizing, configuration and storage design for now. This will simplify your project plan and help you to develop a low-cost and winning IT strategy.
The most important factor in VDI is the end UX. At its best, VDI always delivers both functionality and consistency. Keeping this in mind, most users are still comfortable with a standard PC environment even today. So, virtual desktops must be able to support the same variety of applications as those in physical desktops.
Secondly, a good VDI strategy drives consistency across the entire IT stack in many ways. For instance, it sees that users always have uncompromised access to their desktops. This works well where employees follow BYOD programs or work off-site. To add to this, VDI proactively responds to change by delivering 24/7 business continuity in every situation. It also efficiently meets growing demands by providing linear and predictable scaling.
In short, VDI is a very simple concept. You only need to understand that its main purpose is to ease IT systems management and maintenance. All this is done by assigning IT complexity to the data center.
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Now, let’s see how you can make your VDI plan an affordable reality.
Quantify Your Strategy
Every VDI planning should begin with fusing both qualitative and quantitative research. Otherwise, you cannot see your plan through to completion if you either overlook or underestimate the financial side of things. Generally speaking, what is the first thing you do when developing a business case for VDI?
Or rather, why would you like to go for it?
Legacy systems or a current IT strategy being unable to guide your long-term goals are reasons for switching to VDI. Another possible cause is expansion. This is where you might want to bring applications that require more memory, storage and CPU performance. Perhaps, you want to go the VDI route because you do not intend to fall behind the competition.
This takes care of the qualitative bit. Next, present your proposal with hard numbers. This will make sure that you do not run into hidden or unexpected costs during the implementation process. Start by assessing two commonly overlooked costs: backend storage and WAN.
Backend Storage and WAN
A VDI setup generally places extra load on the network. The number of users and the nature of work they perform can also also tax the WAN circuit. So, adding bandwidth to fulfill user demands and deliver smooth workflows is key. What you need to do is assess the most likely number of users on your network. This will tell you exactly how much bandwidth your VDI setup needs. You can then choose protocols that offer support for multiple network features and perform ideally in different load situations.
Now, assessing bandwidth requirements at both the high-end and low-end sides is always a good practice. Even then, you should always provide extra to meet increasing application needs in a VDI setup. This cost cannot compare to the expenses that may come up if you do not have enough bandwidth to serve users. What’s more, nobody wants this to be the reason for low productivity and loss of revenue.
So, assess your user types and calculate the time a specific group may need for performing certain tasks. For example, there are many things that can happen during crunch time. Multiple users may access content involving high-end videos, graphics, document intensive applications and web pages all at once. All this increases latency so estimating the network impact is important. This will help you plan ahead and avoid making storage bandwidth the bottleneck that affects user performance and productivity.
In a nutshell, you should:
. Look for low-cost solutions that use lower tier backend storage to support multiple VDI sessions.
. Go for options that can withstand unexpected storage and network spikes in peak load conditions and boot storms. This will prevent you from paying extra by over-engineering the data center.
Thin Clients and Zero Clients
VDI is appealing and advisable if the systems in a standard PC setup are outdated or obsolete. Note that this may turn out to be expensive if you do not take upfront costs into account. Also, some companies believe that initial VDI hardware and software investment is greater than the cost of buying new computers. Let’s look at the situation from a long-term view. What if standard PCs offer plenty of features and perform at the desired level? Even then, they are unlikely to support the latest software or applications in the near future.
So, save costs by using affordable Thin Clients or Zero Clients to match projected user needs in your VDI plan. Ideally, go for a Thin Client because it offers the most flexibility. ClearCube offers the Best Thin Client Solutions to support task workers, knowledge users and power user application use cases. Sign up for our Free Demo to see how they take the VDI game to a whole new level.
Hire the expertise of a vendor who can help you transit smoothly into your VDI environment. Trainings and certifications related to applications and backend software and hardware aspects are vendor-specific even today. A training program prior to implementation will go beyond promoting preparedness. It will provide an end-to-end understanding of how IT should design, set up, manage and maintain a VDI plan. Think about the benefits rather than the cost and doubts that may arise in the later stages.
We hope that this guide has been useful to you. Please check out our other post on how to keep VDI expenses to a minimum.