Understanding Operationalization of VDI Environment

POSTED BY : Principal Consultant, Cloud Services
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI has evolved over the past few years. Introduction of several different technologies has made VDI solution more viable for enterprises with simpler and improved operations. Gone are the days when enterprises had to spend massive amounts of money to build out baseline architecture suitable for a VDI deployment that end-users would embrace. With value proposition such as opex reduction, shorter time to deploy and reduced risks, VDI has become increasingly relevant and the solution of choice.

Desktop virtualization fundamentally changes the desktop/end-user environment paradigm effectively swapping a one-to-one paradigm for one-to-many (or few-to-many) paradigm. This change of paradigm brings in lot of complexities in management of the virtualized environment. Image Management, User profile management, desktop/application provisioning &reclamation process, application virtualization process, access management, data security management, BYOD policies are some of the areas for which new capabilities needs to be developed and planned for.

While the current focus remains at VDI technology and the underlying infrastructure, with the change in dynamics of user interface with desktops and its business needs, Operationalization of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure becomes imperative.

Planning and Deploying VDI may be easy; however, operationalizing it is a challenging task. Enterprises looking at VDI as their IT solution are often faced by questions such as:

How to deploy desktop virtualization solution for various set of user groups?

How to provision and reclaim virtual desktops for users as per demand?

What standardized methods to adopt for application packaging and virtualization?

How to effectively manage application licenses?

What should be organization's BYOD policy?

How to define VDI service and related SLA & support structure?

How to ensure compliance with security & regulatory requirements?

Planning for Operationalization of VDI environment is critical to successful implementation and day-to-day management of this new environment. A big-bang VDI implementation for all users is not a norm in today's enterprise. Enterprises tend to roll-out VDI in a phased manner and hence in-house capabilities need to be created for it to be successful with lower efforts, duration and disruption. Hence roll-out of VDI cannot be taken as a onetime activity and requires standardized methods & processes.

Similar to traditional desktop environment, in VDI environment users will have constant demands for new configuration of desktop, change in access& configuration, new applications installation requests, new client device request etc. Provisioning & managing these on a day-to-day basis would require new processes, procedures & tools, i.e. essentially operationalizing the management of VDI environment.

Possible Challenges in Operationalization of VDI:

Change/modification of existing desktop environment management processes

Development & Implementation of new processes & procedures

User awareness & training on new processes

Identification & implementation of tools & technology to monitor & manage the VDI environment

Modification in security & regulatory guidelines for VDI environment

Focus on server infra redundancy and DR management

Building new skills to manage the VDI environment

Critical Steps for Operationalizing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure:

Planning for operationalization of VDI environment must start at strategy phase and continue through the design phase. It is in these phases that the organization would be able to identify approach & determine overall framework for operationalization of VDI environment based on current readiness, VDI scope & VDI solution.

There has to be a central Axis of the operational framework that defines standardized services across Business Units for common SLA & support structure, options for purpose built/custom services to meet critical business requirements and implementation toolkits & guidelines aligned with defined services and business requirements. The required processes, procedures and guidelines should be aligned with the defined VDI services and service levels.

Although VDI offers business solutions to a number of challenges, Operationalizing VDI solution is a battle in itself. Following steps becomes critical in order to operationalize VDI environment successfully within the enterprise:

1. Define VDI Services: The first step of operationalization of VDI environment should start with defining the VDI service that the IT organization plans to provide to its end-user. This service essentially should contain the type of virtual desktop provisioned to users, standard desktop configuration with specification around compute & applications etc. The service should be supported by a well-defined service level and support structure.

2. Build Roll-out templates: Phased roll-out would require standard practices to deploy VDI services to end users with minimum disruption in shorter duration, hence as part of operationalization of this area, organizations must define data gathering, UAT & use case templates. Organizations must define training plans & toolkits to deliver training of VDI environment to new users.

3. Prepare Guidelines & Processes: For the day-to-day management & administration of VDI environment organizations need to modify some of the current processes and develop & implement new processes. Provisioning & reclamation process for virtual desktops & applications; VDI usage guidelines, BYOD policy are some of the key processes& policies that should be part of these newly defined & implemented processes.

4. Create Toolkits: Along with processes & policies organization need to identify & implement tools to monitor & manage the VDI environment. This should include tools to monitor & measure user experience on VDI environment with respect to desktop & application performance.

Enterprises must create operational procedures that enable VDI to function as a service offering and not be managed as a one-off situation. A VDI environment needs a solid framework for it to get operationalized within the enterprise.

Disclaimer: The view expressed herein are those of the author and Microland expressly disclaims any liability arising from its publication on our website.

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Raj Kumar Thakur
Principal Consultant, Cloud Services
Cloud Computing