“Just make it happen!”

When a business sets a new direction, its IT department is expected to just make it happen. It could be a merger, acquisition, divestiture, new initiative or a new office. If you’re a seasoned IT pro, you’ve received the call or been in the meeting where IT is looked at like the shaman of the organization and asked (or told) to “Conjure up your black magic and make it happen.” Perhaps not in those terms, but you get it. With the agility that virtualization brings to IT, black magic becomes easier to deliver. Servers, storage, networking, firewalls—nearly everything is able to be virtualized. So, what about the last hold out? The endpoints? The desktops? Based on client conversations and personal experience I’ve compiled some of the truths, lies and black magic surrounding the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

VDI Truths

Virtual desktops are easier to manage. No question. When systems are virtual better management is achieved. This applies to servers, storage, networking, security and desktops. With physical desktops, sophisticated endpoint management platforms are required for proper care and feeding. This drives up the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and requires additional skills to manage and administer. Most often, virtual desktops are managed from the deployment console, which contributes to a lower TCO and simplified management.

Virtual desktops offer better security and tighter control. Security and control are improved when systems are virtualized. Period. This is largely due to software-defined characteristics, central control and deep visibility of VMs. So long as there is a feature-rich management interface from which policy is rolled out and administration is delivered, virtual desktops are more secure and better controlled than the physical alternative.

Virtual desktops are much easier to deploy. No contest here. Just as virtual servers can be provisioned in minutes, the same is true for virtual desktops. Once a golden image is created and stored in a “library”, new virtual assets can be spun up very quickly. Combine that with Active Directory integration and IT can respond to business demands for provisioning/deprovisioning desktop assets in minutes. That translates to faster turnaround and enhanced productivity for any business.

VDI Lies

Virtualizing desktops is easy. The road to virtual desktop nirvana is long, convoluted and riddled with trial and error. The reason for this is simple. Every organization has different applications and user demands. Given that, there is no template to follow or proven virtual desktop architecture for your organization. Virtualizing desktops on-premises often ends up being a science project with lackluster results. Virtualizing desktops is not easy and is more capital-intensive than most companies who have tried it will admit.

Virtual desktops can use the infrastructure that is in place already. The resource demands of virtual desktops unequivocally require their own infrastructure lest the virtual desktops compete with virtual servers for precious I/O and throughput. On top of that, virtual desktops will introduce additional traffic and overhead to the switching infrastructure. In simple terms, virtual desktops require dedicated infrastructure.

Performance suffers with virtual desktops. If done correctly, performance should be equal to traditional desktops. However, on-premises virtual desktop deployments tend to be fragile and as a result, interruptions or performance sags are common. With significant investment in infrastructure and engineering, high performance can be delivered from virtual desktops. That just begs for over-engineering and excessive headroom.

Black Magic

The idea of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is simple. If you had a mountain of money and a focused engineering team to solve one infrastructure challenge, the result likely would be high performance, well thought out and dually tested. This is what cloud service providers like dinCloud have done. They’ve solved the virtual desktop challenge and are delivering performance results without the ownership commitment. This is the black magic of cloud: outcomes without ownership.

Performance in the cloud is often better than on-premises. I know, I know, this sounds crazy, but it’s true. Hear me out on this. Imagine an infrastructure with the purpose of delivering thousands of virtual desktops, specifically designed for scale and built from the ground up by incredibly sharp engineering talent. We’re talking high caliber architecture just for desktops with muscular servers backed by a 40G backplane tied to all-flash storage load balanced East-West across 10G fabric. Coupling that with a protocol that has been optimized for HTML-5 will get you a blazing-fast user experience that delivers on the promise of the cloud. DaaS delivers incredible performance.

Hosted virtual desktops are proven, scalable and available right now. There are players in the cloud market that have done all the heavy lifting and tuning over time. They’ve claimed authority in the DaaS space and rightfully so. They’re capitalizing on the cloud movement and delivering a mature and reputable service. dinCloud is one example of a CDW provider that has demonstrated performance, thought leadership and dedication to the virtual desktop space and they’re delivering at scale.

In the end, virtualizing desktops is no small task. Regardless, IT pros are called to the task of delivering the black magic of IT systems like we’ve done for years, and now the call for desktops is front and center. What’s the good news? It’s true. Virtual desktops are viable and can help organizations secure, control and rapidly deploy endpoints. But the fact is this: to deliver virtual desktops you don’t need to design, deliver and own dedicated infrastructure. So, you can focus on the outcome rather than ownership, proven high-performance platforms like dinCloud stand ready to deploy your virtual desktops … and you can once again, deliver the black magic of IT.

To learn more about how CDW can help you successfully design, build and manage your own hybrid cloud, ask your CDW account manager to recommend a cloud specialist.

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