Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI is also known as server-based desktops. More and more businesses are seeing the worth of using VDIs, which gives you more control over how your desktops are put together. It also gives you a centralized control and management over your desktop and the data you create with it. Furthermore, it simplifies your bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives while also ensuring topmost focus on security.
But there are some significant barriers to VDI adoption. What are these?
- Licensing. Licensing is one of the things that you would have to deal with. Over time, you get desktop images that are kept live but no longer used. For example, those desktops used by former employees. And because these are not deleted, you would need to pay license costs for operating systems and all the software in that unused desktop. That is money that could have been spent elsewhere. There are also those desktop images that are created and then promptly forgotten such as test desktops. So it is either you are overpaying for licenses you do not use, or underpaying for your software license that exist within your system. Some companies just pay for site licenses, which would allow them to use the operating systems and applications as much as they want. Problem solved? But site licenses can be very expensive.
- Storage costs. When you move local desktops to your data center, this could prove to be very expensive. High performance SANS and other traditional storage used by businesses can put a dent on your capital and maintenance costs. The good news is that you now have virtual SANs or software-defined storage to help you meet your storage needs while also keeping the costs down.
- Management. One of the biggest draws of VDI is that it makes your management very simple. If you have a hundred desktops and your software vendor releases an update, you would need to update 100 desktops. With VDI, you only have to update your server’s copy and have the update propagated to all your VDIs. At the very least, it saves you the trouble of having to go to 100 different sites to do the update. But can you imagine if there was something wrong with that update that your software vendor released? That would mean that you would be applying the update out to 100 desktops that would all have that problem. And this is the reason why most IT professionals who are overseeing VDI desktops put off updating the software than having to contend with problematic updates. This leads to even bigger problems of having desktops that are less than secure or are running below par.
Do all these mean that you should avoid VDIs altogether? Well not really. First, you might want to use as few images as you can possibly get away with. You can make use of a single “golden image“, which is what you would need to update in order to keep your VDI infrastructure all current. The golden image will have all the applications that everybody in your organization is using, and it would need to work with software that handles provisioning of these applications to different users, as well as handling the licensing requirements. You would also need to monitor your VDI usage to see what desktops are not used and therefore be up for deletion. This way you can reuse the licenses for other users.
Photo courtesy of markuz.