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Lessons learned in my virtual desktop integration (VDI) deployment

Collin Hachwi, IT manager of DISYS LLC, a global IT staffing and consulting firm | May 21, 2013
As the IT infrastructure manager at Digital Intelligence Systems LLC (DISYS), an IT solutions company, I recently initiated the build-out of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to support our large mobile workforce, and learned some important lessons along the way that may help smooth the way for your VDI rollout.

We opted to use VMware vSphere 5.1 as our virtualization platform in conjunction with VMware View 5.1. VMware View 5.1 provides many new features and enhancements that further extend the core capabilities of vSphere. Among these are:

" Access to the virtual desktop via any web browser without the need for a client.

" Notable improvements in the areas of host security, logging, monitoring and deployment.

" New VMware vSphere vMotion capabilities that enable virtual machines to be migrated between hosts and clusters with no shared storage.

" Support for the latest processors and guest operating systems (OS).

To control data and usage in our VDI environment, we were determined to follow the non-persistent desktop model for 80% of the users. A non-persistent desktop is a virtual desktop that does not maintain personalized settings or any other changes made by the end user. Each time the end user logs on, they get a fresh, generic virtual desktop image.

The primary benefit of this type of virtual desktop, compared to a persistent desktop, is that it requires less storage and is much easier to manage, since there is only one base image to maintain.

Thanks to what we discovered during the pilot phase of our VDI initiative, we are continually re-evaluating the IT tools and applications we are using. We also have a better understanding of how to manage expectations around the VDI deployment. In addition, VDI has paved the way for a better "bring your own device" (BYOD) mobile implementation strategy.

Already, we have been able to cut costs around having to buy, ship, install and maintain new computers. VDI supports all devices, and we can provision users in 20 to 30 minutes versus the time it takes to do things the "old-fashioned" way.

But the bottom line on our VDI deployment is that it allows DISYS to better control our data. As a result, we can stay focused on securing and managing the company's data -- our most important strategic asset -- instead of worrying about what to do about aging computer hardware.

When all is said and done, this project has become a "win-win" because the scalability of VDI has allowed DISYS to reduce IT costs while giving our employees more flexibility and the ability to take advantage of the BYOD movement. In the long run, VDI has enabled everyone at DISYS to serve our customers better.


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