There is no doubt that virtualization has become mainstream in corporate IT. But as companies look at additional ways to reduce cost, increase security, speed deployments of operating systems and applications, and greatly enable a mobile workforce, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has become more appealing, particularly in mid-sized organizations. Gartner analysts agree that medium-sized companies have learned a lot from recent server virtualization and are ready to invest in VDI. Yes, VDI is a great technology and can help save money. However, with user profiles, numerous applications, and various architecture options, it is important to do your homework.
West Monroe recommends profiling users ahead of time. By profiling the user base before jumping into a technology, companies can improve their success and user buy-in of the technology. Reason being, the technology and related architecture is right-sized and properly enabled for the individual. What is meant by this profiling?
Profiling is a way to determine the applications that are required for each user type and grouping applications accordingly. Since VDI comes in different flavors and allows for varying configurations, no matter the vendor, consistent profiles assist companies in deploying the correct and most cost-effective configuration for them. It also helps them to keep their administration costs down by reducing the number of profile types or images. Take a financial institution as an example. By determining that all tellers and personal bankers can get the same set of applications even if they don’t use them all (assuming licensing implications have been mitigated), the IT department only needs to manage one VDI image between those two groups of people.
Another way that profiling helps is in determining the best method for presenting applications. If we expand VDI’s definition, there are three ways to present applications: remote desktop or in a terminal-like session, shared virtual desktop images, or personal virtual desktop images. Each configuration has its own implications. For example, remote desktop applications may be easier to configure based on the type of applications being run where personal virtual desktops allow users to personalize their experience while shared desktop images save on storage space. By interviewing staff and managers within the business, the appropriate configuration will come to light. Remote staff has very different needs than staff who are bound to their desks.
A second part of West Monroe’s approach is applying a financial model to the upfront analysis. By taking into account cost savings of hardware, licensing, support requests, and even estimated increases in customer satisfaction, the true savings of the project can be estimated. West Monroe also looks at the varying architectures to determine which is best for the client.
This white paper (http://westmonroepartners.com/en/insights/white-papers/the-potential-of-a-virtual-desktop-infrastructure) delves deeper into these VDI topics. For the client, we contrasted three VDI configurations to maintaining the status quo of replacing desktops and laptops. Even though the VDI architectures all had a higher up-front capital costs, over time the savings was dramatic. We calculated the net present value of VDI and determined the hybrid configuration (placing a large central VDI cluster Lang with two others in remote branches) was the best configuration for this particular client.
Yes, VDI is a great technology that promises great cost savings and a better experience for users. But doing homework up front will not only assist in deciding which over-arching architecture to use, but it will also assist in readying the profiles correctly for staff, selecting the correct VDI vendor, and selecting the correct method for deploying the various methods available for presenting applications.