The Virtual Reality of Virtual Desktop

James Young James Young December 10, 2012

Some CIOs see Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and wireless networks as a way to innovate the way desktops are delivered to their users. VDI gained notoriety by promising lower cost, improved security and universal access. The pros and cons are many; however, before you set course on VDI, there are some things you might want to know.

The goal of VDI is to provide a virtual desktop to a remote user transparently. Imagine an office with 10 employees using computers. Instead of having 10 separate PCs running their own programs and requiring individual attention when updating software and monitoring, you would have one server tied to 10 workstations. Each workstation consists of the same contents as any other station--a monitor, mouse and keyboard. The only difference is there are no PCs. Everyone’s individual desktop, with their files and programs, will live on the server. The user interacts with this virtual PC with some local and mobile devices such as PCs or tablets.

Maintaining the user experience is complicated and difficult. VDI technology is certainly better today than before; however, for many users, it cannot equal the current local desktop experience. So a compromise is needed. VDI optimization is based on the type of users and the environment you want to target.

Although there are great benefits to VDI, there are several things to consider:

  • It is not one size fits all--there are many versions of VDI. Assuming that VDI is right for you, which version should you use? There are significant differences in each and modeling the right solution is a challenge.

  • VDI, like many things in life, is a trade off where functionality versus cost versus bandwidth equals user experience.

  • The cost of Windows licensing can be a shock.

  • Moving user data into a data center can be more expensive than local storage.

  • User experience must be maintained through the right balance of bandwidth and processing power at both the PC and data center

If someone tells you “VDI is cheaper than traditional desktops,” ask a lot of questions because many found the opposite to be true. Yes, VDI costs more up front, but it might still be a good investment if your objectives include improved security, universal access or centralized management. If users want to customize their environments or be able to work “off line,” once again VDI is usually more expensive.

If VDI makes sense for your organization, the proven bandwidth and communication quality of structured cabling can lower equipment costs at the desktop and in the data center. Different flavors of VDI allow user data to be stored locally, in your network or off site. Processing is done locally, remotely or in combination.

The network’s quality helps optimize VDI costs and user experience. Network bandwidth and quality enables low cost flexible VDI solutions.

Do you have experience working in an office with virtual desktop? If so, do you think VDI is a good fit for your organization?

About the Author

James Young

James Young

James currently serves as the Director of CommScope’s Enterprise Data Center division, overseeing strategy and providing leadership to product and field teams globally. Formerly James has been involved in a variety of roles including sales, marketing and operations for communication solutions working with Tyco Electronics/AMP, Anixter, Canadian Pacific and TTS in Canada. 

James has gained extensive experience in the sale of OEM products, network solutions and value-added services through direct and indirect channel sales environments. His sales experience includes electronic transmission components, telephony systems, network systems, LAN infrastructure products and fibre transmission system products. James has garnered substantial experience in OEM and channel marketing, as well as network operations as assistant director of CP’s computers and communications group. 

James graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Ontario.  He is a registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) and certified Data Center Design Professional (CDCP).