How to meet the expectations of a VDI Project

VDI can be one of the toughest projects an IT organization has to implement, due in a large part to the expectations of the groups involved. Replacing PCs with virtual desktops creates expectations with users that have to get their work done. Buying the high-performance infrastructure to run hundreds of virtual desktops creates expectations with company management that has to write the checks. And in the middle is IT, the group that must balance the needs of the other two with their own expectations, such as simplifying operations and reducing risk.

Moving parts, complexity and risk

VDI projects have so many ‘moving parts’ that IT has to manage. There’s a human component as they strive to deliver a desktop experience that end users will accept and a technical component as they build the infrastructure that can deliver the performance this requires. And of course, there’s a financial component, and even a political one, as IT works to deliver the economics the VDI project promised at the outset.

Watch the on demand webinar "How to Overcome the Four Obstacles to VDI Love"

With hundreds of users and a complex infrastructure that includes storage, compute and applications, there’s a lot that can go wrong with a VDI deployment. The unpredictable demands placed on the system by VDI and the cumulative scaling requirements as more users are put on the system all add to that risk. VDI is also a massive consolidation exercise, which brings its own set of risks around system availability and data protection.

When the financial realities are factored in, IT can be caught in a classic struggle: how to build a system with enough enterprise-level features to provide uptime and reliability and enough performance to satisfy users while keeping costs low enough to satisfy the budget. In order to deal with those realities IT is often forced to operate in the margins.

Operating in the margins

In this case, operating “in the margins” refers to pushing a system past its suggested operating range, or outside of best practices. This can be the performance “margins” as they try to make an underpowered VDI system meet users’ expectations. Or they can be forced into the cost margins, buying low-budget storage infrastructure that’s short on services in an effort to keep the CFO happy. Under-buying the storage means they don’t have any headroom to accommodate spikes in performance demand or a need for increased capacity. As they try to keep operational overhead in this scenario under control, something has to give and when it does the VDI project often fails.

IT needs to relieve the pressure on the system and still meet everyone’s expectations: the cost pressure, the storage performance pressure and the  operational pressure. They need some headroom with respect to performance, capacity and scalability so the system can accommodate spikes in demand and be able to provide risk mitigation for high availability and disaster recovery.

A new approach to VDI

To meet these often divergent expectations IT needs a new approach to VDI infrastructure. This approach and some new technologies increase capacity efficiency and performance efficiency so that the financial goals for the project can be met, with an infrastructure that IT can love and a desktop environment that users can love.

For more information on these technologies, watch the on demand webinar “How to Overcome the Four Obstacles to VDI Love”. You will gain access to the exclusive white paper “The Three Ps to a Successful VDI Deployment – Persistence, Price, Performance”.

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Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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