What, exactly, does the cloud bring to the desktop virtualization table? Quite a lot, in fact — so much so that it seems we can finally see a world in which mobile, interchangeable desktop images become the norm in the enterprise, not the exception.
Part of this is sheer momentum. With all other aspects of the enterprise experience heading to virtualization and cloud, the desktop will have no choice but to follow if enterprises expect to gain the maximum benefit from the new dynamic infrastructure. Not only does the cloud help solve the resource allocation issues that VDI brings to the data center, but it fosters the new collaborative capabilities that users are looking to exploit across their desktop, laptop and handheld client devices.
As Enterprise Strategy Group's Mark Bowker describes it to Network World, the cloud enables an IT workspace that can be created on a whim from various resources spread across local and wide area infrastructure on physical, virtual or cloud-based platforms. In this way, both data and data environments will be driven by the needs of the user, rather than the other way around. In other words, instead of working within the confines of IT, IT will be responsible for meeting our business or even personal requirements, whatever they may be.
As expected, however, this kind of work environment will not be possible without new forms of management — in this case, a means to exert control of desktop images across physical, virtual, cloud and mobile infrastructure. Firms like V3 Systems are targeting this need with new tools for the Desktop Cloud Orchestrator that centralizes desktop features found in VMware's vCenter, View and vSphere platforms on a Web-based interface. The latest version includes new tools to enhance desktop pool failover across V3 appliances, as well as a new management panel that allows desktop administrators to drill down to key processes and performance data. At the same time, the company has added two new appliances to its roster, the V-E523 and V-E529, that sport new Xeon E5 processors and support 125 and 250 concurrent desktop images respectively.
For Dell's part, the company is already putting its recent Wyse acquisition to good use with additions to the P-class line of zero-client devices capable of dual- and quad-display of VMware View implementations. The units feature Teradici's new Tera2 PCoIP processor that provides enhanced application delivery technology and graphics capability for advanced functions like CAD, 3D modeling and video editing. Meanwhile, the company is shoring up its virtual desktop infrastructure capabilities with new hybrid EqualLogic storage arrays that provide up to 85 TB of storage and a new auto-tiering system that more than triples IOPS performance and reduces latency some 75 percent.
Part of the problem with cloud-based VDI solutions, however, is the fact that it can be very hard to pinpoint trouble spots when they arise. Is there a failure on the client side? On the host? In the cloud? Or perhaps somewhere in the network? CloudVDI and eG Innovations have teamed up to shed some light in this area through an integrated platform for Windows OS environments. The pact incorporates eG's performance management solutions under CloudVDI's Virtual Desktop service, where it will perform discovery, diagnoses and resolution functions across virtual and cloud environments. CloudVDI will also make the eG platform available to Citrix users to improve deployment functions.
These are all relatively small steps in the grand scheme of things, to be sure. However, it's worth noting that cloud-based virtualization relies on largely the same infrastructure that already supports storage, application and other services, so much of the real legwork has already been done.
With the infrastructure already in place and the resources available, desktop virtualization should feel right at home in the cloud.