Virtualization Technology Guide: Part 2 – Thinking outside the virtual square

Windows 7 could provide the catalyst for a wave of virtualization at the desktop level. Computerworld's Virtualization Guide covers the pros and cons, and looks at which vendors and products you should choose

Windows 7 could provide the catalyst for a wave of virtualization at the desktop level. Computerworld's Virtualization Guide Part 2 covers the pros and cons, and looks at which vendors and products you should choose.

The move to virtual desktops is often coupled with the need to source a new network, storage, clients, a new operating system as well as the virtual desktop software platform itself.

See part 1 of our Virtualization Technology Guide, Evaluating potential partners

Delivering a rich desktop service, compared to a simple published application, requires adequate bandwidth and provisioning, which means the network is a crucial, if often overlooked component.

Needless to say, don’t under-provision this component or fall into the trap of thinking that providing each user with the equivalent of a 1998 modem in bandwidth will provide a great 2010 experience with Windows 7, YouTube or a swathe of other applications, VMware’s Wakeman says.

Ahead of any virtual desktop deployment, IT managers should also check with their Internet service provider to assess whether a plan with higher download limits will be required, as quickly hitting your organisation’s data cap can be a major ‘gotcha’ of virtual desktops, Melbourne IT’s chief information officer, Glenn Gore, says.

“Some of the protocols used to display virtual desktops are quite bandwidth intensive, so if you’re on a low download cap you may end up being throttled down to dial-up speeds, which makes a virtual desktop almost impossible to use,” Gore says. A surprise bill which adds an unexpected cost, can quickly blow out the budget.

See the full Virtualization Technology Guide - Definition, Vendors, Products

If the organisation is on an asynchronous connection (ADSL), it may also need to move to a synchronous (DSL) one to ensure upload and download speeds for remote VDI users are adequate. A connection of at least 512kbps down is necessary to achieve a reasonable virtual desktop experience with a minimum of latency.

On the storage side, it’s worth considering whether you want to retain your current setup or invest in new storage solutions from vendors who now offer virtual desktop-optimised storage products.

Consider leveraging these technologies along with software storage reduction and image management as they have the potential to improve performance, save you money and offer some unique image management possibilities.

“Your storage is also important, but it doesn’t need to be huge in terms of permanent capacity because virtual PCs are provisioned in real time as they are needed,” Annonier says. “However, whether you are running VDI with 500 or 5000 users during peak times, you do need to have storage to handle that many virtual PCs.”

Next, Virtualization Technology Guide: Part 3 – To host or not to host?

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