When Is It Right for a Business to Consider Desktop Virtualization?
Tips for determining whether desktop virtualization is right for your business.
It seems that Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is following the same trajectory as previous technology innovations: A rush of enthusiasm followed by rapid deployment that leads to the inevitable letdown as reality sets in.
In the case of VDI, the reality is the impact the technology has on existing storage infrastructure. For many organizations, the need to shore up legacy systems has been a major factor in the relatively lukewarm embrace of VDI despite its vast potential to cut costs and streamline data operations.
Lately, however, proposed fixes to this problem have been coming at a steady clip. The solutions range from improved caching and management capabilities to higher-speed storage options.
Atlantis Computing, for example, recently upgraded the ILIO platform to smooth out some of the rough edges when integrating VMware View and other systems into existing infrastructure. The system, which can be deployed on a virtual appliance, provides image consolidation, I/O offload and other management functions designed to streamline VDI's presence on network and storage resources even as it maintains responsiveness and reliability for end users.
For SAN users, VDI presents a particular challenge as floods of new desktop images can quickly overload available storage controllers-even more so than a virtualized server environment. What's needed, according to tech blogger Brian Madden, is a local virtual storage option to streamline access to storage through a VDI host server. Madden is convinced that DataCore's new SANmelody software fits the bill by housing the storage virtualization system on the same hardware that hosts the virtual desktop. While this does add an extra burden to local memory, CPU and other resources, it turns out performance is actually enhanced by the elimination of external traffic and the block-cache and I/O latency it engenders.
Some firms, however, are offering a more direct approach. Xiotech recently launched a new line of hybrid storage drives that the company says boosts I/O to a level that can easily support even the most challenging VDI environments. The Hybrid ISE device uses what the company calls Continuous Adaptive Data Placement that delivers 60,000 IOPS in a single 3U unit-scaling up to 900,000 IOPs per rack. The company says the drive is drawing interest across a range of applications other than VDI, including data warehousing and high-volume cloud computing.
Despite these improvements, the jury is still out on VDI. Although the number of seats is growing, it still makes up only a tiny fraction of the worldwide desktop universe. There is little doubt, however, that the vendor community sees gold in the technology and will continue to chip away at the objections one by one.
The idea is to reach a critical mass of users and then let the fear of being left out of the next big IT revolution take control.