Top 7 Desktop Virtualization Questions and Answers

Top 7 Desktop Virtualization Questions and Answers

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With desktop virtualization as my primary focus, a significant portion of my day is spent listening to customers and sharing my perspective on how desktop virtualization may help them achieve their business goals. After a lot of conversations, I started noticing similar questions surface. As a result, here are the top 7 questions you have asked about desktop virtualization and some of my thoughts which may be of help.

1. What questions do I need to be asking to figure out if desktop virtualization is right for me?

First and foremost, you know your users best so I recommend you evaluate the “required” capabilities that users must have to perform their jobs and then look at virtualization as an enabler. That said, I do recommend every customer evaluating desktop virtualization ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do my users need to access information and applications when they are connected or disconnected from the network?
  • Do my users work with data that is sensitive and must be highly secured?
  • Do my users need to be able to customize their desktop so that if feels personal for them?
  • Do I need to consider how non-windows devices will access Windows applications?
  • Do my users need multiple windows environments (Dev.-Test Environment/ Business-Personal Environments)?

Based on those answers, they can start working on a desktop virtualization plan that works best for them and their unique needs.

2. Now I know I could benefit from desktop virtualization, so how should I get started?

To take advantage of desktop virtualization, organizations should start by identifying the business problems they are trying to solve and then understanding how different desktop virtualization solutions can address their specific business needs. Microsoft Desktop Virtualization is unique because it understands that one size does not fit all and aims to provide solutions across the entire desktop stack.

For scenarios in which organizations want to provide a personalized Windows experience across any connected or offline corporate PC and IT is looking to simplify management and accelerate deployment of corporate applications to users on demand, organizations should begin by adopting Microsoft App-V and User State Virtualization. Both technologies apply to every desktop as they work across all physical and virtual instances of Windows, running locally or hosted in the datacenter. And throughout the application lifecycle, App-V can save organizations 27 percent in labor, or $82 per PC annually.

Additionally, for scenarios in which enabling flexible access to Windows from multiple devices, centralized desktop management, and security and compliance, Microsoft recommends VDI and RDS Session Virtualization. Organizations can use both technologies for user-device flexibility and enable secure access from unmanaged-devices. VDI is more beneficial when users need high level of personalization and operating system isolation, like in the case of doctors or financial advisors; whereas RDS session virtualization can provide users access to single or limited centrally hosted LOB applications with more scalability, like in the case of call center agents, insurance agents etc. Therefore, VDI and RDS Session Virtualization are good for every company but not necessarily for every desktop.

Customers can learn more about which of Microsoft’s desktop virtualization solutions would be right for their business on the virtualization site.

3. Should I consider VDI and how much does VDI cost?

Customers are interested in VDI for good reason. VDI can help you centralize your desktop management and gain better control of what is being installed on Windows, how you secure your data, and help speed up your Windows 7 migrations with the ability to create one image and deliver it centrally to many users

When considering VDI, it’s important to understand the implications and implementation requirements. Respondents to a recent Gartner data center end-user survey indicated that hosted virtual desktops (HVD), also known as VDI, can have a large impact on the data center as new servers are purchased to manage the increased compute load that is switched from the desktop, additional storage capacity is acquired, and new tools are sought that will help better manage the HVD environment. Additional impacts and concerns surround network bandwidth, security, application acceleration and WAN optimization. No one concern stood out more than others which indicates that HVDs will have a broad impact on the data center that requires carefully created plans in rolling out the technology. (Source: Gartner, User Survey Analysis: The Impact of Server and Desktop Virtualization in the Data Center, Worldwide, 2010. Published January 2011.) Architecting your VDI infrastructure to address these realities is critical to ensuring a great local-like user experience. If your users need offline mobility, then using alternate virtualization technologies in combination with a laptop will deliver the best user experience.

So VDI is right for some situations, but not all. If you already have the server, storage and network infrastructure, SA and Windows licenses, then VDI could be a good option for you with very little additional investment. And now with Windows Thin PC, you can repurpose existing PCs to behave as thin clients, so that is a cost you can save while making the most of the hardware you already own.

4. Is VDI the only way to virtualize my desktops?

No, VDI is simply one way of virtualizing desktops and not the only option available to you. If you need to virtualize the entire operating system, VDI is a good choice. However, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) is another consideration as it allows users to easily create and deliver a virtual Windows environment (Windows XP) to enable incompatible applications to operate in their “native” environment. This means businesses are able to deploy Windows 7 now and retain access to legacy lines of business applications that require Windows XP, which would appear to the user as ordinary Windows 7 applications, but they actually run inside seamless, IT-managed Windows XP virtual workspaces. Or, you might have a group of employees where it’s not important to give them the ability to personalize their PCs, in which case Remote Desktop Services Sessions (RDS) could be a good choice.

One important point to consider is that many customers already own System Center Configuration Manager, Windows Server, Hyper-V and MDOP, giving them immediate access to App-V and MED-V, which means they might already be poised to capitalize on VDI or other desktop virtualization technologies.

5. What business problems can I expect desktop virtualization to help me solve?

Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization products can be customized to meet the unique needs of your business and to help you solve some of the most pressing technology problems. I hear from customers that some of the biggest challenges relate to getting the user the right data and applications regardless of the device they are using, onboarding and managing temporary use workers (contractors), securing remote workers and managing non-Windows devices.

Our desktop virtualization products, in conjunction with our partner ecosystem, give employees the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere, on a range of devices, help managers improve compliance by centralizing control and managing access to confidential information, and also allow IT professionals simplify compliance and management operations, and speed Windows 7 deployments.

6. Where do you see desktop virtualization heading in the next one to five years and will my investments today still be valuable tomorrow?

If we look at the trends over the last few years, we have seen varying levels of virtualization maturity. For example, hosted sessions and applications have been available in market for many years and are proven technologies that now also integrate with application virtualization. Newer virtualization technologies, such as server virtualization, are now mainstream while others are moving to a more mature state and starting to see broader adoption, such as application virtualization and local OS virtualization using virtual machines. VDI is trying to move toward broad deployment, while client hypervisors are still emerging.

You’ve seen us work really hard to ensure compatibility with both physical and virtual environments and applications, which is a critical difference between desktop virtualization and server virtualization. With the Server Virtualization, the standard user doesn’t experience and interact with it first hand –IT does that. With desktop virtualization, the user is the primary consumer of the experience – whether it’s through a virtual application or a VDI desktop - that experience has to be a good one otherwise they won’t use it and then IT is unable to realize the benefits it can deliver for the business.

So as we move forward, I expect that we’ll see innovation in areas that will continue to improve the user experience and where possible, reduce infrastructure costs so that IT can deliver better service.

7. Any desktop virtualization tips that I might not have heard of?

A tip that recently came to me from one of our customers in the MED-V early adoption program is having the options to the use the System Center Configuration Manager to help install a MED-V workspace. When a customer is deploying Windows 7, they’re also making a MED-V workspace available to each new user. With this the business gets the benefits of Windows 7 as quickly as possible, and MED-V is there to help provide a compatibility bridge for legacy Windows XP or Internet Explorer 6 applications.

For more information on desktop virtualization, customers should check out Did I leave any questions out? If yes, let me know in the comment section!

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