Typically, the customer evaluation of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and its deployment is based on costs (TCO) and returns (ROI). These two factors are of course important, but there are other important elements that VDI can improve upon – which should also be considered. Some of these include productivity, planning, and customer and worker satisfaction.
Let’s explore just a few of the difficulties that VDI can solve and simplify, shall we?
Planning and decision making
To be successful, businesses should always be looking at the big picture in terms of decision making. Having a well defined cost-per-user based on their profile simplifies the desktop and per-user licensing costs well ahead of budget time. While the up-front cost of a VDI implementation might seem difficult to justify within the current paradigm, companies find that the benefits and long term savings in time and money, as well as the tremendous benefits in agility and productivity, quickly outweigh the initial investment.
Deploying new hardware is simple, since the user’s desktop and applications are already configured in the VDI solution. Agility is critical in the modern landscape, giving those who can quickly ramp up resources and deploy new workers a competitive advantage. VDI gives organizations that end-user volume control in order to predictably address growth spurts, hardware refresh, break-fix, and support costs.
Mobility with control
Remote workers, flexible workers, contractors, traveling consultants, and offshore resources represent the growing employee elements in our workforce. With that workforce no longer near the data source or the traditional data center, VDI supports diversity in both location and device – all while retaining access control, legal licensing, backup, and up-to-date security features. Employee restrictions or inclusions can quickly be altered from a central location as workers contribute to a project, complete a project, or are terminated.
Reducing system down time
Cringe-worthy words every manager has heard: “My laptop won’t boot”, “my laptop crashed”, “I dropped my laptop”, and “my laptop has been stolen”. Requiring quick action both to secure your corporate data and continue the productivity of that expensive human resource, VDI enables companies to quickly return that resource to action, secure the users’ work environment, and have logged proof that no malicious entity has access to the critical corporate data.
For those in aforementioned mobile workforce (sales, onsite consultants, etc.), acquisition or overnighting a new device is immeasurably quicker than configuring, loading, testing, and shipping a new device. When the hardware lifecycle is over and planning for a hardware refresh has turned into an action, VDI ensures that new device deployment (whether by date or by function) will be a breeze. While most organizations don’t specifically measure lost productivity due to desktop support, we all have stories. We also can agree that every hour lost is expensive both internally and to our customers.
The security landscape is daunting, with elements of encryption, firewalls, antivirus, antispyware, backups, and intrusion prevention. Addressing data security and staying ahead of the malevolent folks in our society is a full time job, requiring added resources and costs to each end-user deployment. For many companies traversing this landscape, making the right decisions on what counter measures to deploy and continually keeping up with the best-in-breed technologies of data security is nearly impossible.
Instead of hoping you’ve gotten it right, evaluate instead the end-to-end security components of the VDI provider who keeps your environment and your business safe from the latest threats.
Monitoring and maintenance
Similarly to security issues, monitoring and maintenance are a continual, often neglected and difficult to deploy, necessity in the IT community. Upgrades and patches require monitoring of each of your software vendors’ patch notifications and sites, as well as patches of the operating environment.
Monitoring all the various versions and configurations requires significant effort and diligence. Utilizing VDI, upgrades to desktop operating environments, and licensed applications can be done quickly and without user interruption.
Monitoring is the preventative maintenance item often overlooked, or is a victim of support issues adding strain to an already stressed IT department. Having a vendor continuously monitor your environment to find and solve issues before they become business interrupting problems is a must.
Audit trail and activity reporting
Increasingly, there are legal, financial, and industry related requirements for record-keeping and documented proof of corporate data. In those regulation-heavy spaces (health care, finance, military, and government), one challenge may be ensuring reliable audits of secure, highly available data to both internal and regulatory agents. The best VDI solutions have integrated and automated activity and record-keeping as needed.
Testing and application roll-out
As your newly freed up resources are working on strategic applications and data, VDI presents multiple user profiles that can be quickly setup for development and testing. This can be done by logging the activity as mentioned above, then torn down – freeing up licenses without interrupting your IT help desk each time you need to test before any user roll-out and go-live events.
Your VDI vendor is your best source of desktop support. They know your user profiles, software applications, licenses, interfaces, and all of the security and patch information in a controlled environment. Such an environment allows you to confidently shift the burdens of desktop support to responsible experts working under an established service level agreement.
Properly deployed VDI can solve many business challenges, and we’ve only scratched the surface. When the fundamentals of the desktop have become a reliable tool instead of a costly liability, one is free to focus resources on your core business – giving your workforce reliable tools so they can produce, create, and improve their daily responsibilities.