Recommendations for VDI Deployment

By Matthew Sarrel  |  Posted 2010-02-19 Print this article Print


We make heavy use of virtual desktops and servers in eWEEK Labs. Virtualization is an excellent fit for us, but this is lab testing, not an actual enterprise with tens of thousands of desktops spread around the world. I hesitate to recommend VDI across the board. I think even the strongest proponents of the technology would agree with me. There is a ton of information available-both pro and con-about VDI. This may be a more hotly debated issue than open source in the enterprise.

But there is one aspect of the VDI discussion that sticks out like a sore thumb: the end-user experience. A key aspect of the success of any technology infrastructure initiative is end-user acceptance. Search the Web and you'll find hundreds of white papers, articles and case studies about how great VDI is for IT departments, but there is close to no information regarding real-life benefits for end users.

Server virtualization can be deployed without impinging on users' awareness, but take my PC off my desk and fundamentally change how I work while slowing me down and I really don't care what the advantages are for IT.  

During the pilot phase of implementation, it's a good idea to actively solicit opinions from users as to their experience using line-of-business applications in the newly virtualized environment. If the IT department benefits from VDI but users can't do their jobs, then ultimately the project will fail. Likewise, make sure to get buy-in from executives and keep department heads in the loop. Explain the business advantages of VDI to your organization. Don't assume that your CEO knows that virtualized desktops are a powerful disaster recovery solution. Demonstrate to users that support issues can be resolved more quickly because resources have been centralized.

A major step in implementing VDI is designing the architecture of the virtualized operating system and applications. This will ultimately affect how you build your VM images. The first step is understanding the applications and the number of concurrent users of these applications within your organization. Virtualizing the right applications for the right users before they are needed will save time and reduce friction between end users and IT. Keep an eye out for users who require unsupported applications to do their jobs. They will either need custom images built or should be excluded from the VDI project.

It's also important to establish clear criteria for success or failure before implementing VDI. In order to accomplish this, you must understand the performance of the systems your organization is currently running. We all know that no matter what you do there will be complainers. Be prepared to prove to both end users and executives that your VDI implementation is a success; that system performance has improved, costs have decreased and support time has been lowered.

Matthew Sarrel Matthew D. Sarrel, CISSP, is a network security,product development, and technical marketingconsultant based in New York City. He is also a gamereviewer and technical writer. To read his opinions on games please browse and for more general information on Matt, please see

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