Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI) have been around the block, but no matter how many times someone exclaimed, “This is the year of VDI!” that year never came. VDI never went away, either. For some users and certain use cases, VDI remains a viable option for moving workloads into the data center. That’s particularly true for large organizations, who can reap greater benefits from a VDI investment by moving a larger number of users to virtual machines.
So, VDI is still chugging away and it may be the right answer for you. Before you start buying up software and deploying users, here’s a few topics to ponder to point you in the right direction.
Consider your users’ needs, first
Obviously, your VDI deployment can’t be successful if your end users don’t accept it, or can’t use it to get their job done. Before you do anything, compile a list of the use cases that you want to satisfy with VDI, and the different resources users need for each case.
Do you have applications that run only on Linux operating systems? Are you planning to host graphic-rich applications that will require a high-performance display protocol? Can some users be satisfied with Microsoft RDS? List every use case you can think of and then look for a solution that provides comprehensive support.
Keep your options open
Flexibility is key if you want to avoid designing your VDI into a corner. The VDI space is ever-changing, with new technologies reaching the market as old solutions fade into history. Think about ways that you can future-proof your VDI investments, allowing you to switch between hypervisors, display protocols, and other technologies without a complete rebuild.
Even if you never plan to switch vendors, you may want to use multiple products side-by-side, leveraging the best-of-breed solution for individual use cases. Look for tools that provide a single pane of glass for managing different virtualization technologies and, as importantly, that allow users to access all their resources from a single login.
Know your authentication needs
Chances are you already have authentication systems in place. Make sure that you select a virtualization solution that helps you leverage what you have, whether that is Microsoft Active Directory or an old school NIS authentication system. Are your users accustomed to logging in with a smart card or proximity card? If so, make sure they can continue to use that same card to access their virtual machine.
Is your company expanding or acquiring? Plan ahead for how you may want to wrap users into your existing VDI. Will you have a multi-domain environment? Will you have untrusted domains? Not all solutions can handle these configurations, so try predict the future to avoid redesign, later.
Define your policy controls
Finally, and perhaps the hardest, consider the type of policy control you want over the user’s remote session. Do you need to lock down USB devices, so the user can only pass certain devices through to their virtual machine? Do you want to offer the user a different desktop based on where they log in? How will you handle printer redirection? Do you want to track idle time, and perhaps disconnect users when their session is idle? Try to consider as many scenarios as you can, so you can choose tools that help you recognize each scenario.
You can never anticipate every need, but with a little planning, you can build even the largest VDI deployment in a way that satisfies every user.