IT Focus Area: infrastructure operations
April 29, 2011
Simplify VDI: Illuminating Ways to Virtualize Your Apps
Consider a hospital network with thousands of employees, including doctors, nurses and other licensed health care workers. It’s a business that leaves little room for error, since not only do staffers often deal with life-and-death situations, but they also are responsible for handling confidential health records, prescriptions and insurance information. This is where application virtualization can play a key role.
Using a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) makes perfect sense for health care organizations. It ensures that the data and information that hospital staff need are accessible and secure in the data center at all times. If doctors and nurses are roaming, they can count on that accessibility. VDI, by definition, is moving the functionality of desktop technology to a centralized location. The processing occurs and the data exists in the data centers, as opposed to on the endpoint device. Aside from security and accessibility, VDI offers the added benefits of cost savings and peace of mind.
But when a chief information officer (CIO) has thousands of applications to virtualize as part of the VDI process, where should he or she begin?
VDI makes sense for many types of organizations. Virtualizing thousands of applications can be done somewhat seamlessly and is not as overwhelming as it sounds.
We worked with an international financial client that wanted to virtualize thousands of applications. We were able to do it by decoupling the applications and using single disk imaging technology, link clones and Citrix streams. We gave the CIO a list of the applications that he could virtualize, and a few that he could not. Then we separated the applications from the operating system and in the end, we had one stamp with hundreds of users. The entire application virtualization process completed on schedule. While the hard benefits such as a quick return on investment (ROI) speak loudly to CIOs, some of the soft benefits, which are harder to measure, are also essential. They include security, faster and easier patching and better IT support due to data center accessibility.
One of the biggest hurdles, understandably is the capital expense up front. But you can repurpose the existing PCs into the capital expenditure (CAPEX) cost or use financial tools such as leasing capture financial benefit earlier in the program lifecycle.
VDI is especially beneficial for finance and health care organizations where the network simply cannot go down, and roaming employees and “road warriors” are numerous. It’s also important to remember that there is not usually a single vendor solution. Mixed technology offerings usually offer the best result. And then test, test and re-test until the comfort level is there.
In the end, while virtualizing thousands of applications as part of the VDI process may sound daunting, it’s a path worth tackling. When it’s done right, it can happen fairly quickly and efficiently. Technology leaders and chief executive officers (CEOs) will be pleased with the business returns for years to come.
VDI: At A Glance
VDI is a process in which conventional desktops are decoupled from physical machines. Users access their desktops from thin clients or internet surfing devices. For technology leaders, VDI offers a few key benefits.
Remote (off-shore) access, which is important for disaster recovery (DR) and remote employees
Security for desktop resources, which moved back into the data center
Extended desktop life for machines that are moving slowly