In the past five years, more and more businesses have adopted the desktop virtualization model, citing benefits such as efficiency, security, application data mobility, lower costs, and end user satisfaction. According to Technavio, the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) market shows no signs of slowing down. It is expected to reach $14 billion globally by 2020.
Despite its popularity, however, VDI has been notoriously difficult to implement and manage. In many cases, the performance demands of VDI require infrastructure upgrades. Other issues include dealing with the different workload requirements of different users and unpredictable demand spikes, which can be difficult to manage with traditional infrastructure.
Managing VDI deployments in a converged infrastructure environment largely solves these problems. Because converged infrastructure is simple to scale, it’s much easier to add capacity as needed to meet user requirements. It’s also less expensive, since the converged architecture running the virtual desktops is already optimized to work together.
The converged infrastructure model also helps avoid the storage bottlenecks that can slow virtual desktops to a crawl. When managed with traditional infrastructure, it’s difficult to handle the storage access needs of different users, and it can be particularly difficult when large numbers of users access large amounts of storage at the same time.
Performance in general is better with the converged model. “With converged infrastructure, it’s quite common to have multiple processors, and each processor has multiple cores—all in one chipset,” explains Daniel Kusnetzky, president of the Kusnetzky Group, a technology consultancy. “That means that if something fails, it’s easy to move a workload from one place inside the converged system to another. The user gets the effect of nonstop computing without paying the price of a nonstop piece of hardware.”
Converged infrastructure systems are also much easier to manage, due to the tools provided by converged infrastructure vendors. And because everything in the converged infrastructure environment is designed to work together, even a large VDI deployment running on this type of infrastructure can generally be managed by IT staff with lower levels of expertise in each function.
“Setting up these kinds of environments is typically a complex task requiring expertise in the virtual machine monitor, operating system, storage software and networking software,” Kusnetzky says. “With converged systems, the system supplier has done a lot of the work and simplified it with their own tools that do those things on the back end but keep the front end simple.”
To make the most of running VDI deployments on converged infrastructure, it’s best to choose a converged infrastructure environment optimized for workplace productivity. In addition, make sure to keep up to date with hypervisor patches, hardware firmware and virtual machine integration tools. Finally, set up automated alerts (made available by most converged infrastructure vendors) apprising you of critical issues such as over-utilized host memory, lost network connections and high availability.
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