When planning your investment in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) it is important for organizations to should consider: whether they need it, the cost benefit analysis, and what parts of their infrastructure to virtualize, etc. Another interesting aspect to consider is - how the journey of migrating desktops to cloud impacts the application delivery model. As a result, I think it merits taking this conversation one step further to discuss what you should consider from an application delivery standpoint when moving to VDI. Let's continue our discussion about 7 building blocks of an efficient application delivery model.
1. Identify the value chain: While this seems like a no-brainer, it is important to identify the enterprise value chain right from the data center to the end-point, where the end-user consumes the application.
What this means: With diverse application needs for different categories of users i.e. mobile users, transaction users, quasi mobile users, etc., it demands identifying all the key components in the critical path for each of the user segments.
2. Manageability of applications: Identifying the value-chain needs to be closely followed by manageability at the component level. While data centers and networks are managed as part of keeping-the-lights-on operations, end-points have almost always been monitored and managed only to the extent of provisioning device uptime. For all practical purposes, they have been considered the output mechanism that doesn’t impact application performance. Desktop virtualization is helping here; it allows you to push the envelope for end-to-end manageability of application performance.
What this means: VDI brings manageability to each component of the application delivery value chain; however, manageability paradigms change.
3. Monitoring: Monitoring here is reference to a proactive approach to ensuring optimum application performance to end-users. At present, organizations monitor performance at the component level without really monitoring the service level that they cumulatively contribute towards.
What this means: This comprehensive monitoring ensures that your systems are geared to proactively identify issues before they hit users. So application delivery is optimized at the end-user level.
4. Skills realignment: Typically enterprise architecture and its components work in silos where every component has a specialist managing and monitoring it. What this often leads to is reporting of optimal component level performance without actually accounting for the cumulative effect of their performance on service levels. So while specialists are necessary, it becomes crucial from a VDI standpoint to have a robust incident diagnostic team to complement it.
What this means: While the end-user never really had a custodian/specialist in charge of its optimal functioning and uptime, the incident diagnostic team becomes the umbrella organization that covers it.
5. Centralization: This is among the most elementary building blocks of VDI from an application delivery standpoint. One that ensures that your support skills are centralized given that the intelligence has moved to a central location and end-points are dumb terminals.
What this means: What this means to application delivery is the ability to manage, monitor and support applications, their uptime/downtime centrally.
6. Security: In a traditional application delivery framework, isolated security measures are created for data centers (perimeter security approach for data in store), networks (encryption for data in transit) and end-points (role based restrictions and controls for data access). VDI provides a lot of inherent security benefits; one of the key advantages is to ensure data doesn’t travel outside of data center. It is important that data doesn't leave the data center, therefore security controls need to be realigned by creating different zones within the data center.
What this means: What this means to app delivery is ability to design a cohesive security framework for application delivery while saving costs.
7. Network Architecture: Designing network architecture has always been tricky with traditional desktop setups, as it requires planning for peak traffics while ensuring control over peak to average ratio. VDI helps in reducing peak to average ratio drastically and optimize network architecture with deterministic bandwidth requirements. VDI requires carefully planning QoS within your networks – as it replaces a lot of asynchronous network traffic with interactive ones.
What this means: This means a far more efficient and cost effective network that intelligently prioritizes the traffic based on its needs and is far less dependent on traffic loads.
If you’ve got these fundamental 7 pillars addressed, your VDI implementation approach can be considered as evolved and would ensure application delivery is optimized to provide the best end-user experience.