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Key impacts of hosting virtual desktop infrastructure

Expert Keith Townsend says enterprises have to plan carefully in order to roll out VDI effectively.

What are some of the key management implications when considering VDI within the enterprise?

There are plenty of considerations and impacts regarding hosting virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in the enterprise. Here are three of the most significant: 

1. Licensing 
Organizations underestimate the impact of Windows client licenses in a VDI environment. Microsoft licensing can be complex and VDI licensing can be even more complicated. Generally speaking, Microsoft charges for each device connecting to VDI, the license for the VDI instance and, if the endpoint runs Windows, it requires a traditional license as well. This is an area that needs to be well researched prior to undertaking a VDI implementation. 

2. Desktop Management
Hardware costs are not the only consideration for VDI clients. Many organizations are tempted to use traditional desktops to access the VDI infrastructure, especially as the price difference between fully loaded desktops and thin clients continues to narrow. The cost and convenience should be weighed against the management cost. For every traditional desktop that is leveraged for VDI access, you essentially double your management overhead for each user. It's not just the VDI instances that must be maintained; physical clients still need software and security updates.

3. Storage
Most virtualization engineers are aware that physical memory is the normal bottleneck for virtualized environments. Storage I/O is more of a concern for VDI environments. The use patterns of end-user workstations are very different from those of servers'. As a result, storage I/O can be the biggest performance headache for system optimization. To that end, hyper-converged platforms -- where the hypervisor itself is built in -- are quickly becoming the preferred strategy for VDI due to performance, cost and reliability. 

This was first published in March 2014

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