Mid-Sized Firms Ripe for Appliance-Based VDI

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Olivier Thierry, chief marketing officer, Pivot3.

VDI has the reputation of being ornery as the number of seats increases; that is, it doesn’t play very well with legacy infrastructure. Larger enterprises naturally have the bigger challenge when it comes to VDI scale, but they also have greater financial resources to throw at the problem. Mid-market firms, however, are in a perfect storm of sources, as they still have a substantial number of users to serve, but aren’t in as good a position to outfit internal infrastructure. True, there’s the cloud, but as Pivot3’s Oliver Thierry points out, new appliance models like the company’s vSTAC provide high linear scalability and substantial performance gains, particularly in high-volume environments like Big Data and rich media.

Cole: Some of the latest research into VDI indicates that it is gaining popularity among mid-market enterprises. How are they able to take advantage of the technology in ways that small or larger firms cannot?

Thierry: The mid-market is ideally suited for a converged appliance that brings together storage, compute and networking in a simple-to-consume and easy-to-deploy solution. Large enterprises have vast IT departments and resources full of specialists who may have biases in terms of storage or server preferences and the skills to custom-build their own solution. Small businesses can also take advantage of an entry-level converged solution, but they aren’t going to have all of the scale-out needs that the mid-market would have as the range of desktops requires more enterprise-style features. Therefore, VDI is a very attractive solution for the mid-market due to the simplicity of deployment while providing high-performance virtualized desktops.

Cole: It's been said that VDI deployments are fine at first, but they quickly overload infrastructure, particularly storage, as the number of seats increases. What are some of the ways newer platforms like the vSTAC system are countering this?

Thierry: Traditionally, a handcrafted infrastructure for VDI means that IT is designing a storage area network (SAN) and determining blade servers for a given number of desktops, so the IO calculations and workloads all have to be carefully planned and conceived based on a particular desktop count. When IT changes the number of desktops, they have to completely recalculate and rethink the infrastructure. They might have to increase the size of the SAN, and that might require different IOPS or more blades. Each upgrade requires a substantial amount of work to custom reconfigure the infrastructure as the number of desktops increase. In an appliance-model like vSTAC, everything scales linearly and automatically aggregates. If IT needs more desktops, they basically only have to add another appliance and the resources aggregate automatically.

Cole: It's also been said that enterprises need to embrace VDI to accommodate workers' mobile computing needs. But is it really crucial that users have the same desktop image for the desktop, laptop, smartphone, etc. Doesn't each client device have unique requirements for the user interface?

Thierry: As VDI has gained a growing acceptance among IT, the hurdle has moved to the end-user. The end-user’s experience has to be equal to or better than what is found on a traditional device. The virtualized device has to be available, secure and high-performing to deliver the same user experience, although you need to be careful from an end-user experience not to deliver a full desktop application on small real estate.

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Jan 16, 2013 10:12 AM Mike Colson Mike Colson  says:
While I agree with many of the points made, Converged Infrastructure and Pivot3 shouldn't be looked at as just a Virtual Desktop Appliances. Traditional virtualization infrastructure is expensive and the licenses for storage are outrageous. Converged Infrastructure allows businesses to scale out their infrastructure as needed and not require a SAN upgrade to make it happen. Instead appliances are added with an N+ scale at a realistic cost when capacity is reached add an appliance and you are back to room for growth. This makes the ROI on virtualized infrastructure that much more appealing to C level management. While large storage needs will never fully go away, the amount of storage needed for the SAN environment gets reduced as does the cost associated. Not to mention the perfomance benefits of "local" disk access to the virtual machines from the hosts. This is the next evolution in data center design in my opinion. Reply

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