Ready, set...your IT department has to recover a PC that is trapped in a BSoD (Blue Screen of Death). Do you send a tech deskside for a four-hour troubleshooting allotment, or do you spend five minutes sending down a new desktop image from your data center?
One recent morning I sat down to work and got a "blue screen of
death." Of course, I was on deadline and the last thing I needed was a
long troubleshooting session. So I went to the lab, pulled out a test
laptop and was up and running in less than five minutes. All the while
I was wishing I had a production version of my VDI (virtual desktop
infrastructure) set up for office use.
How was I able to do this? I just fell back to the cloud.
Several years ago I stopped composing stories on my desktop and started
using Google Docs. I had anywhere-access to my work without the muss
and fuss of carrying a USB flash drive. Our corporate e-mail system is
easy to access via a Web browser. Twitter and Facebook were
still available to me on the Web as was my Chatter account and other
social media tools including IM.
And the cool thing is that even without ready access to a spare laptop,
I could have (somewhat painfully) accessed all these services via my
All of this is possible because I don't work in a regulated
environment. None of the information I generate or use on a routine
basis needs to be audited or controlled for legal purposes. I don't
work with news sources that require stringent protection from the
government and I don't create content that has an immediate financial
impact such as mergers and acquisitions. Thus, I feel quite comfortable
keeping my daily work in the cloud and off my laptop.
Even with my cloud-based applications and data storage, I may have, in the
past, been missing my PC before my first coffee break. But again,
due to the unregulated nature of my work, I haven't stored work-related
materials on my laptop for quite some time. For example, large graphics
files, product documentation (you'd be amazed at what great stuff is in
a user manual) sound recordings (I record nearly every interview I
conduct) and test results get stored on an external hard drive that is
backed up to the cloud.
This is why I find VDI so interesting. If I did work in a regulated
environment or in a workplace where corporate policies dictated tight
control over workplace data, a VDI solution to my dead desktop PC would
have been just the ticket. Instead of worrying about diagnosing the
problem or tearing my hair out over lost data, the help desk could have
just reset my desktop session. All of my data would have been stored in
the data center. In fact, it's a pretty safe bet that whatever I did to
cause this BSoD would have been prevented if I had been using a VDI
desktop because of tighter controls over user rights. Well, maybe not,
but the recovery would certainly be a lot easier than the clean up I'll
eventually have to go through.
Today, I can use the cloud and personal tools to make data recovery
easy for me. The question IT managers need to ask is, "how can IT make
desktop computing more like the cloud?" Virtualization techniques
that speed graphics performance and deduplicate data are rapidly
advancing. While some of these advances, especially when it comes to
graphics, are still bound by hardware, the strategic implications for
IT managers have never been more clear. The days of "desktop" workloads
running on a single, physical desktop are rapidly coming to a