Maximizing Your Desktop and Application Virtualization Implementation

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1 Maximizing Your Desktop and Application Virtualization Implementation The Essentials Series sponsored by David Davis

2 Article 1: Using Hosted Applications with Desktop Virtualization... 1 The State of Desktop Virtualization... 1 Introduction to Hosted Applications... 2 Benefits of Hosted Applications... 2 How Hosted Applications Work with Desktop Virtualization... 3 Key Considerations in Hosted Application Implementation... 3 Summary... 4 Article 2: Desktop Virtualization Best Practices... 5 Image Management Best Practices... 5 Desktop Virtualization in BYOD and Physical Environments... 7 Performance and Capacity Insight in VDI Environments... 7 Orchestration and Automation Considerations... 8 Summary... 9 Article 3: Considerations for Implementing Desktop as a Service How DaaS Works Benefits of DaaS Essential DaaS Requirements Selecting the Right Desktop Virtualization Option Summary i

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4 Article 1: Using Hosted Applications with Desktop Virtualization Companies of all sizes have realized the benefits of desktop virtualization, facilitating its rapid adoption. Whether you are one of the enterprises who have already adopted desktop virtualization or you are about to be, you must ensure proper implementation in order to benefit from all the latest innovations. Smart companies are leveraging application publishing with virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) by using image management and performance management tools specifically designed for VDI. Recently, desktop as a service (DaaS) has joined the picture giving cause for companies to consider when and where to taking advantage of it. To make the right choice for your company, you need to be educated about the latest innovations in desktop virtualization. The State of Desktop Virtualization A large percentage of enterprises today have virtualized end user desktops by using VDI technologies. With VDI, typically each user has his or her own virtual machine and operating system (OS which may be connected to a master image), end user profiles are usually centralized on a file share, and applications may be locally installed or thinly provisioned. Alternatively, many enterprises are using hosted application technologies. In some cases, users entire desktop is hosted in a shared session environment. In other cases, just their applications are hosted and streamed over the network. Many of these companies, over time, are and will continue to make the move to VDI as session virtualization and hosted applications can be problematic, depending on the use case. There are a segment of users that because of their remote location or mobile work requirements need physical computers (desktop or laptop) to do their jobs. These users have only periodic network access or slow network access, making a local image a requirement on their devices. No matter which of these categories your users fit in, a significant and growing number of users also require remote access to company applications over the Web, for example, to work from home, or on a tablet device, such as an ipad. These users may or may not need access to a full desktop. Companies are providing for this need in a variety of ways, including remote access to their full VDI desktop, remote access to hosted applications, or in some cases, native applications that use file syncing technologies back to the enterprise network. 1

5 There is no single general solution that all enterprises are immediately moving to; there will continue to be this variety of desktop/application access methods for the foreseeable future. As a result, enterprises have choice and flexibility when it comes to implementing desktop virtualization. Introduction to Hosted Applications For those not familiar with hosted applications, a brief overview is needed: Hosted applications work by installing a single instance of an application on a server. That application instance is installed in such a way that it can be run by multiple users with application preferences for each user going to a separate location (even though there is just a single application install). With the applications installed properly, a streaming application/publishing solution is used, such as Microsoft s Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Citrix XenApp with the session virtualization option and HDX protocol. End user devices can be desktops, laptops, or tablet devices that run a compatible streaming application viewer. Benefits of Hosted Applications When compared with applications installed locally in each VDI virtual machine (VM) or even virtualized application installations, hosted applications have a number of benefits: Specific hosted applications can be consolidated into a single server (or cluster of servers) that runs only that application for every user employing it Hosted applications, when consolidated into a single server/cluster can be maintained and upgraded as needed from a single point Application owners can be responsible for a particular hosted application, which can be maintained without any effect on other applications Adding and removing an application from an end user desktop, when hosted, is as easy as adding or removing icons from a Windows desktop The most common reason so many companies are considering hosted applications is because those companies already have hosted applications in their environments. By continuing to use hosted applications once the companies make the move to VDI, there is no new application deployment or application migration that has to be done. In other words, most companies are using hosted applications with VDI because it allows them to leverage what they already have. 2

6 How Hosted Applications Work with Desktop Virtualization Today, enterprises access applications through a variety of methods but are using hosted applications more and more. Certainly, some enterprises still install applications locally or even inside a VDI- based VM. However, as mentioned earlier, hosted applications offer many benefits over local application installations. When it comes to hosted applications, there are a variety in use: Software as a service (SaaS) applications Remote desktop session hosted applications Virtualized applications Offline application synching solutions In most cases, hosted applications in some form are being used even if the company standard is to install applications locally. Traditionally, it hasn t been possible to effectively use remote desktop session hosted applications with VDI- based VMs. However, the latest desktop virtualization solutions are providing a unified workspace, as Figure 1.1 shows. Through a single unified workspace, all forms of hosted applications can be accessed, including virtualized, SaaS, and remote desktop session hosted applications. Figure 1.1: Single unified workspace for all types of applications. Key Considerations in Hosted Application Implementation When it comes to implementing hosted applications in the enterprise, there are key considerations to keep in mind. First, many applications are not compatible with being shared as a remote desktop session hosted application. Compatibility depends on how the application stores configuration and user customizations. Thus, not all applications will function as hosted remote desktop session applications. 3

7 Second, different companies will have different use cases and that will drive how they implement hosted applications. Depending on the use cases, desktop virtualization may not be used but hosted applications will. For example, users who travel and spend much of their time offline won t be able to use hosted applications. Those users will likely employ local Windows OSs with application synching or virtualized applications. Users who are remote but have network access may use just a handful of hosted applications. In addition, there may be bring your own device (BYOD) users who just need access to run a few hosted applications. Summary Hosted applications and desktop virtualization haven t traditionally worked well together, forcing enterprises to choose. New desktop virtualization solutions are providing administrators the option to offer desktop virtualization users all forms of hosted applications, easily and effectively, through a single unified interface. 4

8 Article 2: Desktop Virtualization Best Practices The delivery, management, and automation of virtual desktop infrastructures (VDIs) can be challenging if their implementation is not well planned and designed. Desktop virtualization administrators must be prepared to answer these critical questions to ensure a successful deployment and scalable solution for the long term: How will you manage operating system (OS) images in the environment? How will you patch and upgrade that OS when needed? Where will applications be stored, how will they be upgraded, how will they be entitled, and how will they be delivered to end users? What about end user customizations/profiles/personas? How will you separate customizations/profiles/personas from the OS image and applications to ensure that these three distinct pillars of an end user VDI virtual machine (VM) image are siloed? How will you manage performance and capacity? How will you troubleshoot VDI when problems occur? How do you automate it all to run smoothly and efficiently? Let s look at best practices in these areas to help you answer these critical questions. Image Management Best Practices The delivery of desktop virtualization must be one of the first things planned. As part of that delivery, you will need to know what VDI solution you will use, what the end user devices will be, what network protocol you will employ to deliver the end user experience, and how you will manage the virtual desktop images that you plan to deliver to your end users. As mentioned earlier, the three distinct pillars of an end user VDI VM image are: OS Applications End user personas 5

9 Taking these one at a time, the OS challenge is usually met with desktop virtualization and linked clones. To save disk space, a golden image is created and then cloned. Those clones are linked back to the main image such that only the changes from the golden image require disk space. In most cases, the OS is also separate from the applications and end user personas (profiles) so that the OS can be updated as needed without affecting the applications or end user data. The application challenge is handled in a variety of ways, as discussed in the first article. You might install applications inside the VDI image or you might insert links to virtualized versions of your applications (which can be updated independently), an application synchronization technology, or hosted applications. Finally, end user profiles/personas could be simply stored on a file share or stored separately using your VDI product. Alternatively, you might have a more advanced third- party end user persona management application. No matter you use, the primary result is similar: End user personas are kept separately and can be applied to whatever OS or device to which the end user connects (see Figure 2.1). Figure 2.1: Separation of OS, applications, and personas. In the past, the process of patching end user OSs, upgrading OSs, or installing new applications has been problematic for VDI administrators. Essentially, administrators were forced to modify the golden VM image and then recompose all the linked clones. This task can be compute- and storage- intensive and typically requires end users to be logged off. However, by separating these three components of the end user VM image, you ll be able to achieve what is called non- persistent desktops, which will allow you to keep the OS and applications separate from end user data. This setup will enable you to upgrade the OS or applications at any time, without affecting the end user personalizations, performance, or end user productivity. VDI solutions that allow you to silo the OS, applications, and personas to achieve non- persistent desktops are the ideal solution for enterprises of all sizes. 6

10 Desktop Virtualization in BYOD and Physical Environments More and more companies are moving to a policy where end users are told to bring your own device. The BYOD policy takes a huge burden off IT to purchase, support, and troubleshoot a variety of devices. However, it also introduces issues, the main concern being security. If BYOD end users were able to access the company s network, applications, and data from their own device and if that device had a virus or contained malware, the virus could spread and/or the malware could access the company data. The way around this challenge is to keep BYOD devices in a secure DMZ (that is, off the relatively unprotected company network) and allow them to access only a VDI desktop or simply the specific set of hosted applications they need. When the VDI OS, applications, and personas are siloed, the virtualized or hosted applications can be delivered independently of the OS to BYOD end users. This solution is optimal for keeping the BYOD OSs from accessing the corporate network. Many companies still have and will continue to have physical desktops or laptops because they have remote or mobile users that don t have full- time network access. As a result, these users have their own local OS image, applications, and personas. However, IT still needs to keep those physical machines up to date. What if you could keep them up to date with the same siloed OS image, application images, and end user personas employed in your VDI environment? This setup would prevent you from having to maintain a separate set of OS and application images and ensure that the entire company is in sync with the same OS and applications. The latest end user computing solutions are making this dream a reality, providing the benefits of VDI to physical devices. Performance and Capacity Insight in VDI Environments Although virtualization administrators might be used to managing performance and capacity in virtual server environments, undertaking performance and capacity management in VDI environments is a very different task. VDI has different resource utilization characteristics, such as much heavier storage I/O utilization and very unpredictable storage I/O patterns. Thus, desktop virtualization administrators need performance and capacity tools that are designed specifically for desktop virtualization environments (see Figure 2.2) Additionally, you don t want performance and capacity tools that provide only statistics such as Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS). Although it s important to have access to these types of raw statistics, what is more critical is that your tool gives you complete visibility into the VDI environment and provides useful information such as the overall health, performance, and efficiency of your VDI. The tool must be able to optimize the VDI environment to ensure that VDI VMs aren t oversized or undersized as well as be able to quickly identify performance/capacity bottlenecks. Ideally, your VDI performance/capacity tool should be able to prevent problems before they occur. However, when troubleshooting is necessary, you should be able to identify the root cause quickly and have the tool provide recommendations for remediation. 7

11 Figure 2.2: Virtual infrastructure performance and capacity tool for VDI. Your VDI end users expect their virtualized desktop to perform as reliably as their physical desktop did. The last thing that you want is your end users having to report their own problems to IT. You must prevent problems before they happen, or at least know about them before the end user does. You need a tool that offers you the fastest time to value for your VDI, lowers your overall operational costs, and helps you provide the optimal end user experience. Orchestration and Automation Considerations All too often, the last thing enterprises consider is orchestration and automation. This shortsightedness is unfortunate because if you can capture your most common tasks and orchestrate and automate them, you can immediately become more efficient. Examples of common tasks that you might consider include Deploying patches to a company application Adding new virtual desktop users Entitling a common application to an existing VDI user 8

12 Automation and orchestration tools allow you to automate many of the common series of tasks that you perform for your virtual infrastructure. Large- scale automation tools can take those common automations to a higher level by interfacing with physical infrastructures, cloud services, and other hypervisors while applying company policies and managing the complete lifecycle of VMs and applications. Additionally, these high- level automation tools allow you to deploy any application as a service and/or deliver applications and VMs from a self- service catalog. In the end, orchestration and automation will drive greater IT operational efficiencies and deliver greater return on investment (ROI). Summary No desktop virtualization project can be successful if not planned and designed well. The reliability, availability, and performance of your VDI depends on the proper time investment during the delivery, management, and automation steps. Selecting a VDI tool that provides you non- persistent desktops will make the daily maintenance of the VDI efficient and allow it to support physical and BYOD users as well. You must ensure that your performance and capacity tool is well versed in the unique demands of VDI to ensure that you can predict VDI bottlenecks before they happen. Finally, by automating tasks the first time you do them, you won t have to reproduce them. Although it sounds simple, many administrators never invest their time in this automation and orchestration process. The small investment required for automation will result, in the long term, in much greater efficiency for you, as an administrator, and for your company. 9

13 Article 3: Considerations for Implementing Desktop as a Service The design, purchase, implementation, administration, troubleshooting, and ongoing refresh of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments is an expensive and ongoing proposition for enterprises today. More and more, enterprises are considering and making the move to the latest desktop as a service (DaaS) solutions. To realize the greatest success, enterprises must select DaaS solutions that are: Based on proven virtualization technologies Provide integrated security and control Offload their current VDI administrative overhead while still providing their company greater return on investment (ROI) Offer their company greater predictability in costs Ensure they can still integrate with their current enterprise infrastructure How DaaS Works DaaS works by intelligently integrating the following components, offering them as a service in a hosted- form, and pricing them in an affordable and predictable cost model (see Figure 3.1): Server virtualization Desktop virtualization Performance and capacity for VDI Secure multi- tenancy Self- service Hybrid cloud connectivity back to your existing enterprise infrastructure 10

14 Figure 3.1: DaaS in use. Benefits of DaaS The benefits of using DaaS over running your own VDI are many. DaaS implementation means there is no need for you to design, plan, build, administer, and troubleshoot your own VDI, freeing you time and saving your company money. Instead, you can leverage the proven knowledge of an expert provider that can, hopefully, offer VDI more efficiently, reliably, and securely than you could on- premise. In addition, DaaS frees the time of IT experts to work on IT projects that leverage technology to increase company profits, and provides your company with a predictable monthly cost model for VDI that is lower than implementing VDI on- premise. Also, DaaS setups enable your company to implement the latest and greatest desktop virtualization solution available. 5 Essential DaaS Requirements Let s say that you want to run a DaaS proof- of- concept and then, if successful, implement DaaS at your company. What is required to do so? Minimally, you could subscribe a handful of users to employ DaaS as a test; however, at most companies, implementing DaaS will be done on a larger scale by utilizing a hybrid cloud. In the typical enterprise scenario, the existing enterprise IT infrastructure is connected with a site- to- site VPN or dedicated circuit to the DaaS provider. VDI virtual machine (VM) images are created, applications are installed, applications are linked back to on- premise company applications, and the DaaS infrastructure is connected to the existing directory for authentication. With this design, end users keep their existing devices, use their existing authentication credentials, and run the same applications they have always used. 11

15 Selecting the Right Desktop Virtualization Option So how do you know when to use DaaS or implement desktop virtualization in- house, on- premise? If you are planning a new VDI implementation, you should seriously consider DaaS. With a predetermined, predictable monthly cost and no initial capital expenditure, DaaS is the smartest move for most companies. The only caveat may be that there is a minimum commitment term for most DaaS implementations that you would want to ensure your company could meet. When looking at the financial side of your VDI implementation, the DaaS opex model is difficult to compete with, as the model is highly preferable to the CxOs and executives of your company. Summary The way companies deliver desktops to their end users is changing. Most companies have moved or plan to move to desktop virtualization. At the same time, new DaaS options are maturing and becoming more competitive with on- premise VDI implementations. Before your company makes a new capital expenditure for more VDI hardware and software, ensure that you perform due diligence and compare the costs and time commitment of running your own on- premise VDI with simply subscribing to DaaS in the cloud. 12

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