To thrive in the modern marketplace, small- and medium-business leaders need to support employees who need to work outside the confines of the physical desktop or office. When potential clients are just as comfortable meeting in coffee shops as they are in conference rooms, employees must have the flexibility to work from any location. IT must be just as flexible to meet the changing needs of growing numbers of workers.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) provides a consistent desktop experience across devices, eliminating the need to manage many individual systems, instead having just one centralized resource management process. A Research and Marketing report forecasts a continual annual growth of 11.35 percent in the global VDI market between 2016-2020.
However, SMBs don’t have time to experiment with technology projects. They often lack the onsite infrastructure, expertise, budget and resources necessary for deploying secure application delivery and a VDI environment for hundreds or thousands of virtual workspaces. There are several approaches to simplifying VDI for SMBs to deliver virtual desktops that run faster and cost less than a traditional PC.
Give Employees the Best Experience
The no. 1 priority for VDI is creating a great user experience. IT departments need to support BYOD policies that allow employees to access their applications and data where ever they need to work, with reliability and security. A sales manager, doctor or support technician can’t afford to wait for the virtual workspace to boot up. They don’t want to wait 2 to 3 minutes for desktops to load up. Everything needs to be available in seconds. Just like a physical desktop, employees must have full control over their virtual environment.
IT can solve these challenges by not only providing the user a faster experience than what they are familiar with now, but also significantly reducing the cost of storage for VDI and hosted shared application deployments.
Virtual Desktops Should Run Faster than a PC
IT wants to deliver a standard for performance while keeping costs low. VDI requires some planning to succeed, and it always comes down to user experience. If it’s not the number 1 priority, the VDI project will fail. Success isn’t just simply cost savings or better performance but a balance of priorities. The cost of a VDI project includes the upfront capital expense, consulting and infrastructure (compute, storage, networking, virtualization and associated software). Performance is directly correlated to cost; a lack of budget can result in lower performance, and incorrect sizing and scale, all of which would impact user experience.
Workers transitioning from a standard PC to a virtual desktop expect equal or better performance, yet most VDI deployments provide a fraction of the storage performance required per desktop. The most critical aspects of user experience such as boot (startup), logon, application launch and search require vast amounts of storage performance. Often, to lower the cost of VDI, critical features such as desktop and email search are disabled, which are tradeoffs that could impact overall productivity.
SMBs can improve performance and simplify management by using emerging technologies such as software-defined storage that create new resources out of existing hardware or hyperconverged appliances that integrate compute, storage, virtualization and networking into a single device. These solutions can increase the disk performance of the VDI desktops to 6x to 10x that of a PC with solid state drives.
These solutions can typically be installed very quickly thanks to new innovations with automation and hyperconverged solutions, making it easier for businesses to migrate to Windows 10 or Office 365 without any worries about user performance, and make log-in storms a thing of the past. Significantly, storage latency can be reduced to less than 1 millisecond, which contributes to a better user experience across the board.
Reduce Costs to Under $125 per Desktop
Storage infrastructures make up to 60 percent of the total cost to deploy these technologies while also being one of the primary reasons user experience can suffer. These poor experiences typically cause users to reject these solutions, leading to rogue and insecure behaviors to get access to the applications and data they need, such as using personal file sharing services that are not directly managed by IT.
Reduce the cost of VDI by optimizing the storage you already use or by using RAM as storage. The next evolution of virtual workspace is to improve efficiency through software-defined storage (SDS) or hyperconverged appliances. SMBs can use less hardware and software, which means less to manage and lower capex and opex.
The big challenge associated with any VDI project is a lack of planning, resulting in higher-than-expected storage costs. These extra costs are the results of matching end user performance requirements against the available storage architecture.
One common solution is reducing the performance requirements of the system. Using deduplication technology that uses system memory to analyze data and remove redundancies before the data is written to disk can dramatically reduce the amount of storage. By eliminating 95 percent of the IO traffic before it reaches the underlying storage hardware can also increase the number of users per storage system by up to 20 times.
Without using these in-memory deduplication technique, the costs of delivering VDI with acceptable performance at scale can bring the cost per desktop to $1,000-$2,000. Using the storage efficiency of RAM, SMBs can reduce these costs by as much as 80 percent, down to a much more affordable $125 per desktop price tag for businesses on tight budgets.
Integrate Automation and Infrastructure
For workspaces, IT can eliminate a jigsaw puzzle of multiple tools and processes by combining compute, storage and networking with virtual desktop deployment and management. Businesses can reduce many different deployment and delivery models, management tools and infrastructure components, plus the staff requirement—expertise to architect, design, and deliver the VDI.
Pre-integrated VDI products not only make it easier for businesses to deploy virtual desktops and server-hosted applications, but to also slash costs and increase scale. Automation features help administrators quickly set up users with their application environments per their role, department or function within an organization. The integrated workspace stack, computing power and all-flash storage provides growing enterprises with a VDI platform that supports a healthy number of users to start and grows with their organizations.
Along the way, IT departments can lower the cost of the workspace and gain new single-pane management that provides automated, dynamic workspace provisioning, monitoring, analytics and reporting.
Companies can also plug into public cloud services like Microsoft Azure to provide more flexibility. A single integrated VDI platform makes it easy to orchestrate and manage workspace resources whether on-premises or in the cloud.
Protect the Growing Mobile Enterprise
Employees using traditional desktops and laptops present huge problems in data protection, because if the hardware fails and the data hasn’t been backed up, that data is probably gone. To avoid this, someone in IT needs to regularly back up the devices; protection for VDI is a mission critical component for employee productivity every day. Even the smallest businesses need IT to support RPO/RTO goals to ensure 24/7 access to corporate data.
VDI simplifies data protection because each user’s computer is basically a centrally managed virtual machine. IT can better protect the resources for virtual desktops and hosted applications using a combination of granular, space-efficient snapshots and replication at the volume level across multiple locations. One administrator can manage data replication between these sites as a single entity. Policies can be set to ensure snapshots are taken regularly, retained for a specified time for compliance and replicated to a remote site or cloud service for disaster recovery purposes.
A few years ago, VDI was once thought to be a technology project that only large enterprise IT organizations had the know-how or budget to tackle. Today, emerging technologies and approaches in software-defined storage and hyperconvergence can make VDI a much simpler and cost-effective strategy for SMBs. By looking for opportunities to integrate workspace management software with infrastructure management, growing enterprises can dramatically balance cost and performance to ensure the best user experience. And that’s the biggest secret.