By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-09-21 Print this article Print

In my side-by-side comparison, the optimized Windows 7 VM, when idle and with no applications running, consistently used between 0 and 3 percent of the CPU, very little (less than 2 percent) disk I/O and around 250MB of RAM. The non-optimized Windows 7 VM was about the same when idle.

However, during disk defragmentation, CPU utilization went up to around 40 to 50 percent and disk I/O went to around 3MB per second. Over time it's possible to see sizeable computing, disk and network savings by disabling services and handling updates and maintenance activities in the gold master image.

Slimming with the current

Optimization depends on several assumptions to work well. IT managers should spend most of their planning time putting together a desktop policy that balances user needs with VM optimization. Based on my tests, I would prioritize disabling scheduled tasks that are unnecessary over stripping out services that might hinder application workload execution.

It will likely be the case that your organization will use a handful of gold master images from which to clone desktop systems based on the basic workload types. A base operating system that includes the Windows Indexing service, for example, may be appropriate for some user workloads. However many gold master images you decide to make (and the number should be on the more conservative side), ensure that a bulletproof update plan is in place before production deployment begins.

Even though most VDI systems have the lifespan of a mayfly-and therefore a considerably shorter period of time in which to accumulate malware-consider that client security tools that get left out of individual desktop systems should be made up for in the virtual environment. VMware's vShield products are an emerging technology that should be considered for protecting your VDI systems.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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