Is VDI right for your business?
There are many challenges to supporting workstations in an organization. There are issues such as failed hardware, OS corruption, re-imaging, and good old fashion travel, be it to another part of the office or office location. Then there is the likely situation of users installing non-production software or streaming of media that can infect workstations with viruses and affect available bandwidth bringing the network to a crawl! In larger organizations these issues can be extremely costly and require a large support staff. In smaller companies, computer support may not be in house and issues like these can cause users to lose days of productivity.
Many organizations continue to run Windows XP (no, I’m not kidding!) on many or all of their desktop PCs, either because migration typically requires costly hardware upgrades, time-consuming transfers of settings, and user retraining. But when you consider that Microsoft has stopped issuing security hotfixes for Windows XP and ended all support for the OS in 2014, that strategy or lack thereof, is a dangerous proposition. With Windows 7 mainstream support ended in 2015 and extended support ends in 2020, planning now to migrate cost affectively should be a priority for any IT budget.
The good news is there are options that can reduce company costs in hardware, software licensing and support. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI utilizes server hardware to run desktop operating systems and application software inside a virtual machine. The largest players in this market are Citrix, Vmware and Microsoft Azure. VDI can be hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) or even private cloud prodiers as well as Microsoft Azure.
Users can access these virtual machines from their company workstation, thin clients, home computers or virtually any mobile device. The VDI is managed centrally which greatly reduce support costs. In a typical office, if a user’s computer fails, support must visit the user and remove the workstation. They must then re-image the machine and setup all of the user’s application, network and personal settings as well as restoring data. The machine must then be delivered and setup. This can take a day or more to accomplish. A VDI environment greatly minimizes the worry of hardware failure and greatly reduces the time and effort of re-imaging in the case of corruption. Typically a VDI re-image or recompose can take minutes. In this case, the system drive is recomposed to restore OS and applications. The drive containing the user’s profile, settings and data are not affected. As you can imagine, the costs savings from support standpoint as well as user productivity is substantial.
There are some cons with implementing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Hardware investment is the most expensive upfront cost you must endure with VDI if the organization implements interally. The initial cost of VDI hardware can exceed the cost of purchasing new PCs for the entire company. There is a lot of new equipment your company needs to purchase before and after implementation. There is also the need for IT personel to learn and master the new techology, and this can lead to short term difficulties. This is where implementing a cloud Virtual Desktop Infrastructure in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Private Cloud providers comes into play. These providers have the expertise to manage the hardware and virtual layers and allow your IT support to manage the desktop OS. In the case of Private Cloud, your VDI environment can be fully managed allowing your IT support to focus on internal equipment.
VDI is more adaptive because changes to the system are faster, which is advantageous in the modern business environment where remaining flexible is key. When shifts happen in your business, your system will adapt more quickly and this makes it easier to adjust to the conditions.