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 and Application Virtualization Management Best Practices... 5 Image Management Best Practices... 5 Desktop and Application Virtualization in BYOD and Physical Environments... 7 Managing and Monitoring Your Environment... 7 Desktop Provisioning Considerations... 9 Summary... 9 Article 3: Considerations for Implementing Desktop as a Service How DaaS Works Benefits of DaaS Essential DaaS Requirements Selecting the Right Desktop and Applications 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 innovations such as intelligent image management, performance management tools specifically designed for VDI, and access to remote applications for end users. Recently, desktop as a service (DaaS) has entered the picture giving cause for companies to consider when and where to take advantage of it. To make the right choice for your company, you need to be educated about the latest innovations in desktop and application management and delivery. The State of Desktop Virtualization A growing 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. The end user accesses this virtual desktop machine, running on a data center server, using a high- performance protocol over a LAN, WAN, or even securely through the Internet. Alternatively, many enterprises are using hosted application technologies. In some cases, a user s entire desktop is hosted or remoted in a shared session environment. In other cases, just their applications are hosted and accessed over the network. Many of these companies, over time, are and will continue to make the move to VDI while continuing to leverage session virtualization and hosted applications. There are also a segment of users who 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. 1

5 Notably, 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 need choice and flexibility when it comes to implementing and delivering desktops and applications to end users. 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 and data preferences for each user going to a separate location. With the applications installed properly, they can then be published, using Microsoft s Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Remote Desktop Session Host with PCoIP from VMware, or Citrix XenApp with the session virtualization option and HDX. End user devices can be desktops, laptops, or tablet devices that run a compatible remote desktop and application client. Benefits of Hosted Applications If we compare applications installed locally in each VDI virtual machine (VM), physical desktop, 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 and 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 Users may want to access an application directly without having to launch a full virtual desktop 2

6 How Hosted Applications Work with Desktop Virtualization Today, enterprises need the flexibility to access applications through a variety of methods. Although desktop virtualization is where many companies are moving, there are still companies that have large remote desktop session host environments. To give desktop virtualization users the ultimate flexibility, modern desktop virtualization solutions should allow users to access hosted applications along side local VDI applications. When integrated properly with desktop virtualization solutions, these hosted applications should: Have the same look and feel as local applications Have access to the local client device OS, including the ability to be in the task bar/dock Have the ability to work in shortcuts and application launchers Have start menu integration Have copy/paste integration Figure 1.1: Remote applications seamlessly integrated. 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, some applications are not compatible with being shared as a remote desktop session remote application. Compatibility depends on how the application stores configuration and user customizations. Thus, not all applications will function as remote desktop session applications. 3

7 Figure 1.2: Full virtual desktops available alongside RDS hosted applications. 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 or published 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 layered single image management and/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 With insight into the latest developments in desktop and application management, you can help your company realize the ideal setup for your environment. New desktop and application virtualization solutions are providing administrators the option to support more use cases with both VDI and hosted applications easily and effectively, through a single unified interface. 4

8 Article 2: Desktop and Application Virtualization Management Best Practices The delivery, management, and automation of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can be challenging if the implementation is not well planned and maintained. Desktop virtualization administrators should be prepared to answer the following critical questions as they plan out a desktop implementation. How will the operating system (OS) images be managed in the environment? How will the OS be patched and upgraded 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 customizations/profiles/personas from the OS image and applications be separated to ensure that these three distinct pillars of an end user VDI virtual machine (VM) image are siloed? How will performance and capacity be managed? How will you troubleshoot VDI when problems occur? How will you automate the environment 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 As part of desktop virtualization delivery, you will need to know what VDI solution you will use, what the end user devices will be, what remoting 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. 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), you might use an application distribution technology, or you could leverage hosted applications. Finally, end user profiles/personas could be simply stored on a file share or stored separately using your VDI product. Although most VDI products include some form of persona management, many customers choose to leverage a more advanced third- party end user persona management application. No matter what you use, the end result is the same: 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. 6

10 By separating these three components of the end user VM image with VDI, you can upgrade the OS or applications at any time, without affecting end user personalization, performance, or end user productivity. VDI solutions that allow you to silo the OS, applications, and personas for easy patching and updates are the ideal solution for enterprises of all sizes. Desktop and Application Virtualization in BYOD and Physical Environments More and more companies are moving to a policy where end users are allowed to bring their own device. The Bring Your Own Device (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 the set of applications they need. When the VDI OS, applications, and personas are siloed, the virtualized or remote 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. Ideally you could keep them up to date with the same siloed OS image, application images, and end user personas employed in your VDI environment. The latest end user computing solutions are making this possible, providing many of the benefits of VDI to physical devices. When combined with a virtual desktop container on the endpoint, these next- generation image management solutions can also be applied to a BYOD environment with encryption, expiration, and locked down policy controls. Managing and Monitoring Your Environment 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. 7

11 Thus, desktop virtualization administrators need performance and capacity tools that are designed specifically for desktop and application 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 end user environment and provides useful information such as the overall health, performance, and efficiency of your end user environment.,. The tool must be able to optimize the VDI environment to ensure that VMs aren t oversized or undersized as well as be able to quickly identify performance/capacity bottlenecks. Ideally, your 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. Figure 2.2: Virtual infrastructure performance and capacity tool for desktop and application virtualization. End users expect their virtualized desktops and applications to perform as reliably as their physical desktops 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 environment, lowers your overall operational costs, and helps you provide the optimal end user experience. 8

12 Desktop Provisioning Considerations All too often, the last thing enterprises consider is automating desktop provisioning. This 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 The workflow associated with requesting and approving new desktops Adding new virtual desktop users Entitling a common application to an existing VDI user Automation and orchestration tools allow you to automate many of the common tasks that you perform for your virtual infrastructure. Large- scale automation tools can take these common automations to a higher level by interfacing with physical infrastructure, 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 or applications virtualization project can be successful if not planned and maintained well. The reliability, availability, and performance of your environment depend on the proper time investment, upfront and the right tools to keep it running smoothly over time. You must ensure that your performance and capacity tool is well versed in the unique demands of desktop and application virtualization to ensure that you can predict 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 requires more time and resources than some companies have to invest. Also, some use cases may be better suited for more dynamic deployment mechanisms. 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 and application 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. 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. Also, DaaS setups enable your company to implement the latest and greatest desktop and application 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 and Applications Virtualization Option So how do you know when to use DaaS or implement desktop virtualization in- house, on- premises? If you are planning a new desktop or application virtualization implementation, you should seriously consider DaaS. With a predetermined, predictable monthly cost and no initial capital expenditure, DaaS is a smart move for many 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 desktop or application virtualization implementation, the DaaS OPEX model is very appealing, as the model is usually preferable to many CxOs and executives of your company. Summary The way companies deliver desktops and applications to their end users is changing. Many companies have moved or plan to move to some type of desktop virtualization. At the same time, new DaaS options are maturing and becoming more competitive with on- premises desktop and application virtualization implementations. Keep in mind that this strategy is not an either- or situation. Many companies are looking to implement both on- premise and cloud- hosted strategies to address various use cases. 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- premises desktop and application virtualization solution with simply subscribing to DaaS in the cloud. 12

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