While virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) always offers a certain amount of appeal to IT organizations looking to simplify desktop computing management, applications with a lot of latency sensitivity didn’t lend themselves to I/O constraints associated with running desktop servers on the server.
But in the last year, the rise of converged infrastructure coupled with solid-state drives (SSDs) is making it a lot more feasible to run some of the most I/O-challenged applications on top of a VDI architecture. To that end, Nutanix, a provider of converged server and storage infrastructure, has partnered with NVIDIA to deliver the NX-7110 Virtual Computing Platform, which includes graphics cards in a converged infrastructure platform capable of supporting the most demanding of desktop applications within a VDI environment.
According to Greg Smith, senior director of product and technical marketing for Nutanix, the NX-7110 Virtual Computing Platform combines NVIDIA GRID virtualization technology with PC-over-IP (PCoIP) hardware acceleration technology developed by Teradici. Combine that with faster 10G Ethernet, and Smith says organizations now have the option of dedicating graphics cards on a server to specific users or treating them as a shared resource using either VMware Horizon Suite or Citrix XenDesktop software.
Smith says that what ultimately differentiates Nutanix is that its platforms are built on a scale-out architecture that makes upgrading the overall environment simpler and more affordable as the number of users grows.
Like many emerging technologies, VDI is going through something of a Renaissance period after an initial wave of enthusiasm was met with disillusionment brought on by the total cost of acquiring the infrastructure needed to make it work. For the most part, those cost issues still exist. But as pricing for converged infrastructure and Flash storage continues to fall, the total cost of deploying VDI continues to fall as well. IT organizations then have to weigh those costs against the inherent flexibility VDI provides in terms of managing the overall environment.
VDI still may not be for everyone. But with each iteration of infrastructure, it’s becoming clearer that the economics of VDI are steadily changing for the better. In addition, support for graphics applications means that IT organizations are not limited to running some applications on VDI, while still needing to support individual desktops for certain classes of users.
Going into 2014, a lot more IT organizations that can afford the price of entry are going to be deploying VDI, if for no other reason than to eliminate all the headaches associated with supporting individual desktop machines.