Cloud, Hosted Desktop Virtualization Set for Big Time Adoption in 2013
As SaaS (software as a service) successes continue to show how easy it is to deploy and deliver apps from the cloud, CIOs are looking to desktop virtualization projects. In this article, an exec from dinCloud describes what’s driving interest in hosted, cloud-based desktops and how they work. These solutions can provide users access to even complex workloads at low cost, with low maintenance and even encourage collaboration across multiple departments.
As SaaS (software as a service) successes continue to show how easy it is to deploy and deliver apps from the cloud, CIOs are looking to desktop virtualization projects. These solutions can provide users access to even complex workloads at low cost, with low maintenance and even encourage collaboration across multiple departments.
Cloud-based desktops mean that the virtualized desktop sits in a data center. A recent Gartner forecast predicted as many as 70 million cloud-driven desktops (either hosted or desktop virtualization) by 2015. An astonishing number given there are about 200 million business desktops in the U.S. today.
With that kind of explosive growth for cloud-based desktops, this article takes a closer look at the use cases and technologies driving the new generation of desktop virtualization.
Senior Vice President
First off, a basic definition: “hosted virtual desktops” address desktop management, application deployment, and improve employee productivity. They also take the operations of a desktop back into the data center. A hosted desktop behaves like a traditional computer, but the operating system, applications, and data reside in the data center and not on the user’s device.
This new hosted architecture means that servers, storage and networking must be integrated and managed. Each component requires its own level of management and understanding because all these components rely on one another to deliver a high performance, end-user experience. If the end-user experience is not the same or better, you’re going to have a hard time getting employees to adopt the service.
Key Design Considerations for
Hosted, Cloud Virtual Desktops
dinCloud worked with a number of vendors through a lengthy R&D (research and development) process to identify how to deliver high performance, best-of-breed technology, and economics to make a hosted virtual desktop affordable.
As a result, a number of vendors came together for what we call the dinStack Coalition. Microsoft is a major component in any virtualized Windows environment. We worked with Quest Software (now part of Dell) to optimize an enhanced connector to the desktop; Trend Micro provides its leadership in securing virtual environments; and NetApp provides fast storage to support the performance requirements of a desktop. This coalition signifies the collaboration of multiple vendors working to create common goals on sales, marketing, and technology objectives.
Here’s a look at some of the considerations:
- ✔ Servers must be powerful enough to run enough virtual machines to be economical and also deliver high performance.
- ✔ Storage needs to be fast, yet flexible for a cloud environment, and easily provide snapshots.
- ✔ Networking needs to be secure, but drive high throughput.
- ✔ Connecting to the virtual desktop should be easy and ubiquitous.
Along the way, we came across a number of challenges. Connecting USB devices and printers were just some of the early challenges. Selecting the right hardware in the data center also took a lot of trial and error . . . and dollars.
One of the key components of the hosted virtual desktop is the connection broker. This is the software that’s used on the end user’s device (the endpoint) to connect to the virtual desktop in the data center. After extensively reviewing the software and its interaction with different types of end points and dynamic connectivity scenarios, we settled on vWorkspace, made by Quest Software. As such, we worked closely with Quest Software to provide feedback on what was important, in our opinion, to deliver a positive end user experience.
For the end users, it’s important to have easy access to their virtual desktops – despite what end point device they’re using. That is why it’s important to use a connection broker that can support multiple device platforms. Our quest was to support more than just a Windows device: Android, Apple iPads, Apple Macs, and Linux. With the rise in mobility trends, we also wanted to make sure the virtual desktop was accessible in multiple connectivity scenarios, including low bandwidth and high latency. Other developments included making sure we could address increasing the adoption of soft phones and VoIP within the virtual desktop.
As you can see, it’s not easy to deliver a hosted virtual desktop as compared to ordering software as a service with a credit card. But with the support of IT, a business can still take advantage of the cloud. In our experiences at dinCloud, we have found that large enterprises with IT organizations of 50 to 200 people or more tend to have the desire and skill sets in-house to deploy their own virtual desktop services.
Goldman Sachs is an early adopter of this technology. For smaller organizations that see a lot of benefits, it’s still difficult to evaluate which solution is best. There are many flavors such as appliance-based solutions or bundles. However, the decision to move to a virtual desktop should be planned and evaluated, given all the above considerations. If our experience can serve as an example, then all that money, time and effort was worth it.
About the Author
Ali Din is Senior Vice President and CMO at dinCloud, a cloud transformation company that helps organizations rapidly migrate their IT infrastructures to the cloud through its business provisioning services.