Why Desktop Virtualization is on the Rise and How Your Organisation Can Benefit
IT managers need to ensure that their ever-growing and complex network is well oiled and up to date. Here's how desktop virtualization could help.
Most IT managers and system administrators these days are having to manage an increasingly distributed and complex range of desktops PCs, laptops and tablet computers on their networks. And making sure these multiple types of hardware, desktop images, applications, configurations and drivers are up to date and running smoothly all the time is a major challenge.
Trends like bring-your-own-device (BYOD) where staff connect personal mobile devices to the corporate network are also becoming more and more popular. This means small and medium businesses are dealing with a flood of new devices on their networks that need to be effectively managed.
Administrators might find themselves looking after hundreds of endpoints and it’s easy to lose control as the number of devices on the network continues to grow.
Desktops migrations may also be taking months, even years; administrators are using a patchwork of mobility security solutions; and there are an increasing number of complaints from users to the helpdesk when their devices don’t work the way they should.
All these issues are making the system administrator’s and IT manager’s job more difficult and leaves little time for managing business-critical tasks.
Introducing desktop virtualization
For many years now, organisations have virtualized servers in their data centres to consolidate the number of physical servers. This helps cut operational costs, improves utilization, and enables IT managers to spin up server resources quickly and easily.
Server virtualization is now mainstream and the number of virtual servers in data centres worldwide exceeded physical servers for the first time in the first quarter of 2010.
Organisations are now looking at other areas across their IT infrastructure for the next step and for many it is to virtualize the desktop environment.
Consequently, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions are becoming more relevant than ever, mainly because users are changing their behaviour.
Staff want to work from just about anywhere using a device of their choice, and as mentioned earlier, all these devices need to be managed effectively by the IT department. Virtualizing desktops makes this job easier.
At the same time, it helps improve the productivity of their workforce while still enabling IT managers to stay in control of desktops with many different operating environments.
The benefits of VDI
At its most basic, VDI combines powerful storage and server hardware with a desktop hypervisor to deliver individual desktop instance to users over an organisation’s network.
There are several benefits to desktop virtualisation with the top one being fast and easy access to a desktop instance from anywhere. Users simply install a virtual desktop receiver to gain access to their desktop environment from any device such as a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphones.
Virtual desktops can be rolled out quicker than traditional methods of deploying devices on a network. Using VDI tools, administrators can automate the way virtual desktops are created rather than deploying an image to a new device (in many cases there are multiple images to choose from depending on the types of devices being used).
These desktops also require less support as the desktop environment is controlled from a centralised data centre, meaning that administrators only need apply patches or upgrades once and apply them to every desktop. User data is protected and backed up at the data centre so if a device is stolen or damaged, precious user data isn’t lost with it.
Finally, one of the latest and highly useful features available in VDI tools enable graphics-rich video conferencing to be undertaken smoothly. Graphics are initially processed in the data centre using intelligent algorithms to compress the data before sending it to the client. This enables even under-powered devices such as smartphones to work with high-end graphics.
People accessing their virtual desktop from a traditional PC can still process graphics on their clients.
Desktop virtualization technology not only improves staff productivity by enabling users to work fast from just about anywhere, it also allows administrators to accommodate new and diverse working styles of their users while spending much less time on desktop administration.
This gives their organisations the speed they need to lead in an increasingly competitive business environment.
EMC and VMware VDI solutions
EMC and VMware provide several VDI solutions for organisations wanting to roll out virtual desktop environments at speed.
Scale is important – particularly if you need to quickly deploy hundreds of desktops seamlessly. A single VMware vCenter Server™ can manage up to 10,000 desktops as a single entity.
In addition, a single Cisco Unified Computing System B200 M3 blade server can accommodate 186 Windows 7 virtual desktops on an EMC VNX 5500 storage array. This EMC array uses fast flash-based storage technology, which increases application and file performance by up to four times. This technology enables the array to boot up to 1000 virtual desktops in a record eight minutes during testing.
The EMC VSPEX solution helps small and medium businesses quickly deploy virtual desktop infrastructure and accelerates their move to private cloud infrastructure.
Organisations can build a VSPEX by choosing their own network, server and hypervisor technology and combining it with EMC storage and backup and recovery systems.
There are a range of backup and data protection options for VSPEX including the new Data Domain DD 2500, DD 4200, Avamar 7 and VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced solutions.
In-Jae Lee, an IT team manager at Segyung Britestone in South Korea, said the company used VSPEX to deploy a private cloud faster than expected because it could skip steps for design, installation and configuration.
“This shortened our project schedule by 43% and lowered our total cost of ownership by 35%, and our environment is now 100% virtualized,” he said. “VSPEX dramatically accelerated our journey to cloud computing.”
Furthermore, VCE – a company created by EMC, VMware and Cisco – offers Vblock™ Desktop Virtualization Systems, which simplify the deployment and commissioning of virtual desktop infrastructure.
The enterprise-class systems designed for midsized businesses provide fast virtual desktop performance at scale for even the most demanding applications, and comply with global privacy regulations.
 EMC IT’s Journey to the Private Cloud: Server Virtualization, EMC Corp., Dec 2010, http://www.emc.com/collateral/software/white-papers/h8135-it-journey-server-virtualization-wp.pdf
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