Managing Virtual Desktop Environments

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1 Managing Virtual Desktop Environments

2 Desktop virtualization can be extremely beneficial to a company's operating system environment. Yet while working through the virtualization planning process, IT professionals should be aware of virtual desktop licensing. In this e-guide, from SearchVirtualDesktop.com, discover the steps involved in successful virtual desktop management, including how to select the right licensing tools to get the best performance from your VDI. Next Headache for IT By: Dan Kusnetzky Desktop virtualization can be extremely beneficial to a company's operating system environment. The use of optimized desktop hardware and centralized computing allows previously incompatible applications to share the same physical machine. While working through the virtualization planning process, IT decision makers should be aware of one critical piece of the puzzle -- virtual desktop licensing. Most desktop applications rely on several layers of software to function. Therefore, each layer must be properly licensed or the organization could face audits, potential fines and a tarnished reputation. Unfortunately, each layer of software, including applications, application frameworks, data management and the operating system itself, may be available under a different set of terms and conditions as well as varying licensing rules. Operating system licensing Suppliers like Apple and Microsoft often have different application licensing terms and conditions and requirements. If an organization is deploying software from several suppliers, odds are that licensing rules will vary for each supplier. Page 2 of 7

3 Apple, for example, will not allow the Mac OS to run within a virtual machine. They will, however, allow other operating systems to be hosted in a Mac OS environment. Those who prefer Mac applications find themselves having to purchase Mac hardware and a product like Parallels or [VMware Inc.] Fusion to support Windows or Linux environments. The Mac OS application is only a small part of the workload that the physical hardware will support. Microsoft is working toward supporting desktop virtualization by teaming with some of -- but not all of -- the virtual machine and OS virtualization/partitioning software suppliers. Unfortunately, their rules differ depending on whether an individual, small organization or enterprise plans to deploy virtualization technology. The rules also fluctuate for organizations running Windows XP or Windows Vista in their virtualized environments. Linux suppliers often embrace virtualized environments. Linux software is mostly supplied under an open source software license; therefore, organizations may deploy as many virtual machines as they wish on a single physical system. Keeping up with licensing rules A number of suppliers offer tools to help organizations determine what software is in use on their networks. The tools create an inventory of the software to ensure that licensing rules are being followed. This can be accomplished by employing large teams of experts to follow every move of major software suppliers. Companies like ManageSoft Corp., Symantec Corp., and others offer such tools. If your organization doesn't have the necessary legal expertise or is unsure of the rules for each software product, I suggest that you seek assistance. Don't find out you're wrong the hard way -- when an auditor comes to the door demanding to see your purchase orders and license numbers for all software running on your systems. Page 3 of 7

4 Guaranteeing appropriate levels of performance takes a lot more than just throwing additional bandwidth at a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Building reliable performance requires measurement, testing and validation -- three items that often become afterthoughts during a VDI deployment. But how can you judge the amount of VDI desktops a deployment can support if you don't know what level of performance the WAN, LAN and networking components are capable of? Beginning a VDI project requires planning, and that planning should include a way to determine which desktops, users and applications are a good fit for VDI and which ones aren't. Once VDI is deployed, organizations also want to proactively identify when performance and user experience aren't living up to their expectations. While that may sound like a simple case of using assessment tools, with VDI, measurement can be a complicated endeavor. Layers of technology make it more complex to measure and classify VDI's health and user experience. That complexity has led to a whole ecosystem of VDI measurement products. Instead of leaving performance to chance, you can turn to robust tools from many vendors that measure performance, gather trending data and offer solutions to bandwidth-related problems. Selecting the appropriate product is a matter of defining what should be measured, how those measurements should be reported and which actions should be taken to fix any problems. Look for the following features in a virtualization performance and management tool: Usability The technology should offer real-time actionable information via a customizable dashboard. Page 4 of 7

5 Data store The data store should be configurable, support access from multiple tools, offer import and export capabilities, and support multiple concurrent users. Action specification The product should offer recommendations, additional research capabilities and a way to act on discoveries or alerts. Independence Look for a vendor-independent product that eschews vendor bias in every virtualized application tier -- server, storage, desktop, etc. The product should also remain a neutral party with respect to problem diagnosis. Depth It should have detailed metrics across a range of technologies to monitor VDI at all levels -- from latency and throughput to traffic. Real-time management Look for the ability to monitor in real time with interactivity, plus real-time updated charts and alerts. History Be sure the virtualization tool stores activities and trends and provides the information needed to build historical analysis reports. Extensible The product should span multiple virtualization domains and be able to combine data into comprehensive reports, yet still possess the ability to break out individual domains, segments, users and endpoints. Integration Can it integrate with existing monitoring and management tools? Does it have a broad range of industry-standard communications interfaces? Identify It should be able to identify performance dependencies, bottlenecks and relationships among various VDI components. Page 5 of 7

6 Low impact The product should possess out-of-band capabilities, use passive monitoring and support updates without disrupting network links. Installation of modules, data collectors and end-point agents shouldn't disrupt network usability. Deployment Make sure there are deployment options that allow customers to incrementally add features, data-collection modules and updates as needed without disrupting operations. Scalability It should be scalable enough to support the widest range of target networks, from small multisite concerns to the largest enterprise, which may have thousands of servers and petabytes of storage. Metrics should also include more than just latency and bandwidth. Comprehensive tools will measure everything about the physical and virtual machines, including CPU performance and load, as well as the performance of other components that can affect end-user experience. The product should also track elements such as virtual machine refresh rates, end-point response times and what is accessing end points. Several vendors offer products that support these requirements, including Akorri, BMC Software, CA, Citrix Systems, HP, IBM, Liquidware Labs, Virtual Instruments and VMware. Simply put, finding a product or suite that enables performance management, monitoring and analysis while meeting corporate needs is no longer impossible. Page 6 of 7

7 Free resources for technology professionals TechTarget publishes targeted technology media that address your need for information and resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific Web sites gives you access to industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web s largest library of vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more drawing on the rich R&D resources of technology providers to address market trends, challenges and solutions. Our live events and virtual seminars give you access to vendor neutral, expert commentary and advice on the issues and challenges you face daily. Our social community IT Knowledge Exchange allows you to share real world information in real time with peers and experts. What makes TechTarget unique? TechTarget is squarely focused on the enterprise IT space. Our team of editors and network of industry experts provide the richest, most relevant content to IT professionals and management. We leverage the immediacy of the Web, the networking and face-to-face opportunities of events and virtual events, and the ability to interact with peers all to create compelling and actionable information for enterprise IT professionals across all industries and markets. Related TechTarget Websites Page 7 of 7

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