When considering a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution, make sure success criteria is defined. What will make the project successful – cost savings, security, better management, etc.? I suspect that in most projects, it will be a combination of all these factors, plus many more.
There are plenty of articles out there about VDI failure. Most lead you to a vendor solution to help solve initial problems. However, there are additional factors to consider in providing an overall successful solution. The first consideration I look at when talking with a client is if the solution makes sense for their problem. “My boss read about VDI and says we need to use it” is not a good starting point. Discussing your problems and what you ultimately need to solve is essential, and the beginning of a productive conversation. You can’t put solutions where they don’t fit. Many VDI conversation turn into End-User Computing (EUC) conversations because a single product is not going to solve all your problems. It is truly a journey.
Make sure there is a clear understanding that a successful proof of concept (POC), in most cases, will not immediately scale to a production solution. The nice thing about VDI is it will work very well as a POC. The problems begin when everyone wants the new solution quickly and the environment does not scale. Often, POCs are successfully set up and momentum is built, then everything screeches to a halt. Now what? Limit your POC and stick to it. Make it clear that a well-defined environment needs to be developed to support the growth of the solution.
Pay a lot of attention to application performance. There are plenty of guides on designing and optimizing the OS for a virtual environment, but don’t forget the application. Make sure testing is performed on a fully loaded virtual desktop and also stress test the environment with a number of “live” desktops. One application on one desktop in a VDI environment does not guarantee it will work in the full production environment. Does the application act the same as when it was on a physical endpoint? One “noisy” application on a server with hundreds of desktop running the same application could cause all kinds of resource problems. Take the time to test!
You have taken the time to construct the best environment for your VDI solution – all is good – how do you keep it that way? What will the effect of an upgrade or a new application have on your new environment? Don’t forget to have tools in place that allow you to monitor and troubleshoot your solution when something goes wrong. The right tools will allow you to drill down into the environment and isolate problems, which will be invaluable to you and your users. The ability to predict problems or know the difference between a threshold breach and a real problem is important. Seeing the same warning everyday often means you stop paying attention and miss when the real problem occurs. The right types of tools need to be part of planning the overall solution
What is the most important parameter in a successful VDI deployment? End-User Experience. If the end-user is not happy, the solution will not be successful. Do not ignore their experience. Sit with them, watch them work, and try to understand why they are unhappy. Not factoring in end-user satisfaction is a big risk, and often leads to failed VDI.
Chuck – @vChuckmills