Virtual Desktop Infrastructure hosts a desktop instance on a centralized server in a data center that users can access over a secure network with an endpoint. There are many devices to choose from, including Thin Client solutions, Zero Clients, laptops, tablets, and so on. This simplified desktop management platform offers users an isolated environment in which they can log into their virtual machines (VMs) anywhere, anytime, and on any client device. The benefits are clear:
Employees do not always have to be in the office to get their work done. This means lower stress levels, more schedule flexibility and overall increased productivity.
Enterprises receive increased speed and dynamic UX on various terminals, including cloud terminals, smart Thin Client devices, PCs, and laptops. The best solutions are aligned with a wide range of virtual desktops and applications via data compression, operand forwarding control, caching, and filtering. Performance is more effective and efficient than standard PC software.
Leading service providers like ClearCube integrate security and management functions in their offerings that go well beyond those of a traditional secure web gateway. This brings about a centralized management system that enables modern lock-down controls and data protection. By attaining end-to-end security risk visibility, businesses can reduce the likelihood of virus attacks, cyber crime, downtime, ransomware, and financial loss.
On top of that, no information is stored on a Thin Client or Zero Client. Instead, intellectual property remains safe in the data center or the cloud, so there is no cause for worry even if a device is stolen, misplaced, or tampered with.
A VDI environment is characterized by minimal-touch deployment and centralized device maintenance. IT can quickly and easily update devices without having to visit onsite physical facilities. The environment also allows for simple endpoint policy settings and flexible administrator access in varying groups and scenarios.
Furthermore, companies can apply automatic configurations to Thin Clients or Zero Clients as they are deployed and discovered, resulting in quick implementations. One can clone and configure a VM’s image onto a new desktop within seconds to save time and money. Automated device servicing allows an administrator to schedule updates after office hours so that user productivity remains consistent during the workday.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg! The list of virtualization advantages goes on and on and continues to grow every day. What we must understand is that the best setups offer optimal performance at a fraction of the price of equally powerful physical desktops. With the right configurations, it is possible to dramatically cut annual IT expenses and provide enterprises with powerful and widely accessible solutions.
The Question of Implementation
Network, storage, and servers are the most important elements of a successful VDI roll-out. Although this may sound easy, there is so much that can go wrong especially if one is not careful during the planning phase.
Imagine a typical morning when several hundred virtual desktops connect to one server. When users arrive for work, they may boot up all their desktops at the same time which overburdens a poorly implemented VDI project. On-premises solutions, in particular, should be thoroughly calculated and managed to prevent traffic jams. Conversely, owing to the flexible nature of cloud environments, a hosted VDI implementation tends to be more scalable. The interface connects to apps and information that are stored on a cloud service provider’s servers instead of a worker’s computer or the corporate network. In any case, using SSD accelerated storage is necessary to spread workloads evenly and manage those that may affect the performance of other virtual desktops.
What About VDI Provisioning?
Managing a virtualized environment is not a matter of simply monitoring desktops. IT should identify employee resource demands and provision enterprise back-end hardware to reflect these needs. While some aspects of the process are fairly straightforward, others require careful consideration and an in-depth understanding of each user’s apps, location, logon, and logoff times. For instance, CPU planning is one of the easiest resources to manage because the only factor that influences this is the number of desktops a business need. Factor in the functions that servers must perform, and it all comes down to not only the desktops but also the acceptable amount of latency the company requires.
Often, getting everything just right is difficult because under or over-provisioning both have consequences. For example, if you allocate inadequate infrastructure resources to virtual desktops they will fail to function properly. Or, if you invest more than you should in desktop memory, you waste hardware resources, lower virtual desktop density, and increase the cost per virtual desktop. This does not paint a pretty picture.
Let’s have a look at some important factors to take into account when approaching provisioning in virtualization.
One of the best practices in perfecting a resource allocation plan is to ask for manufacturer recommendations. Chances are a VDI vendor that will offer guidelines for hosting an OS, assuming employees work with a powerful or well-known desktop OS like Microsoft Windows or ClearCube’s Cloud Desktop OS. The Vendors may also provide suggestions related to the hardware demands of an OS.
It is important to remember that data-intensive apps need hardware that exceeds the minimum demands of the OS. Therefore, businesses should go over the requirements for any compute-intensive apps which they intend to run directly on virtualized desktops. Note that remote apps do not pose much of a concern as they do not run directly on these desktops.
Another thing you should consult with manufacturers about is performance monitoring software or tools that quantify OS performance and evaluate how it uses available hardware resources.
Pro-Tip: It is a good idea to leave some of the host’s resources unassigned when allocating hardware during the VDI provisioning process. The host demands a specific amount of CPU resources and memory of its own to carry out virtualized functions.
Calculating the memory virtualized systems require involves factoring in user behavior and app usage. One can easily overestimate end-user needs and spend more on memory capacity than is necessary, leading to excessive, underutilized hardware. The fact that memory is one of the most expensive components of VDI should be reason enough to reduce the price by taking a few simple measures. Doing so will also prevent VDI provisioning errors and other gaps in the deployment.
When determining memory requirements, categorize employees according to the kind of work they do. Task workers have minimal browsing demands as they only need basic apps like web browsers and email to perform a small number of everyday tasks. In comparison, knowledge workers run slightly more complex tasks with more resource-intensive app usage that translates into higher memory demands. Finally, power users require feature-rich graphics, video optimization, and 4K UHD multiple monitor support as they utilize large files and apps that have heavy processor usage.
Once you have this information, categorize workers based on memory consumption. This will enable you to easily create a memory capacity plan according to each group’s needs and a number of users.
Make sure that you have enough IOPS to fulfill the storage demands of virtualization. IOPS refers to an input/output measurement that evaluates performance in SSDs, HDDs, and storage area networks (SAN). It indicates the maximum number of reads and writes that can take place in a data transfer scenario. Measuring both latency and IOPS allows IT to assess how much load a network is capable of handling without negatively affecting performance. A common method of computing IOPS is to use an online IOPS calculator that determines input/output based on drive speed, average read seek time, and average write seek time.
So, how does it work? Hard disk drives apply the standard equation to determine IOPS which, in this case, is reliant on the seek time. SSDs depends on the device’s internal controller and their performance change gradually, peaking early on. Even after they drop into the steady-state, SSDs still manage to outperform HDDs where IOPS are concerned. HDDs also face longer read/write times and higher latency.
Clearly, the size of the data block and workload performance impact IOPS figures, so chances are your vendor will use standardized variables when listing input/output measurement performance. Even when using a standard system to calculate IOPS, ensure that you match the number up to a particular workload to attain actionable insights.
From here on, everything is simple. Employees experience desktop latency if IT under-provisions IOPS, so always plan for more than the average amount of IOPS that the VDI environment consumes. While this will provide maximum coverage, IOPS usage spikes during times of high user activity like boot storms that may leave users dealing with performance delays. To solve this, you may want to consider peak IOPS consumption, where IT plans for VDI storage requirements by:
- Selecting a storage product, including everything from types of configurations to transport protocols. For instance, in the storage planning process, IT can opt for SDDs, HDDs, or hybrid systems that blend the two.
- Assessing deployment and configuration factors, such as deciding whether to utilize direct-attached storage (DAS), network-attached storage (NAS), or SAN. What one chooses ultimately comes down to the scale of operations. DAS comes at a lower cost, but NAS and SAN better support large enterprises, with SAN offering higher availability and reliability.
Pro-Tip: Make sure your virtual desktops run at a point that does not exhaust the underlying storage array of IOPS. Surplus IOPS are crucial for maintaining performance in the event that IOPS storms occur.
Do you find yourself making estimates about resource consumption, especially in a first-time VDI deployment or when there is a pool of new users? How can you avoid putting employee productivity at risk by under-investing or losing money because of over-investing in back end hardware and virtualization resources? The answer is easy: test the deployment first.
Conduct a small-scale lab test with a VDI host and a few virtual desktops to experiment with hardware allocations without any real risk of affecting user sessions or productivity. IT can monitor workstation desktop performance based on the VDI provisioning allocated to users. For estimates to be as accurate as possible, the test must include the same range of user groups within an organization. Afterward, IT can verify if any desktops require more of a specific resource and apply the updated estimate to that user type throughout the company. Employees can assist by offering feedback on any technical issues or discrepancies that IT should take note of.
Preparing for VDI takes more than just making the right calculations to be successful. Companies, especially SMBs, should ideally seek professional help and what better than to work with ClearCube, the market leader in virtualization?
For further details or to learn more about ClearCube, please get in touch with our team today.