What You Need to Know About Virtual Desktop Customization

May 15th, 2018
Amol DalviSenior Director, Product

Jumping into virtual desktops really isn’t that difficult, at least once you convince the rest of your company’s decision-makers it’s worth a try and then educate any end-users.

Investing in virtual desktops is easier on the budget than investing in new hardware. This move can also help improve the productivity and experience of your users, whether lots of your coworkers are trying to access the same network areas or everyone is simply able to connect better with their separate devices.

Though the concept of these desktops isn’t new, especially in Windows environments, there are now a lot more options available to improve performance and overall stability, especially through Microsoft’s Azure. Even better, the price for many services and features, including storage and various arrays, has dropped. There are also more third-party options that allow you to customize settings for your users.

Plus, the more people become familiar with virtual desktops and ways they can be configured, the more comfortable and more likely people will be to share their knowledge on various support forums.

support forum

Try these strategies to ensure your experience is effective:

  • Start with finding a remote display protocol. There are a variety of products that offer this service and help optimize your remote desktop experience. If you’re not familiar, you may consider a contract with a vendor for training, support, and the ability to help you modify resources as needed.
  • Find a way for users to connect to virtual desktops. Many methods are now available, including thin clients like Raspberry Pi, which utilizes a lightweight, low-resource operating system; Chromebook, which is a stripped-down but higher-performance laptop with a docking station; and older, repurposed PCs. This last option has its advantages because they may be in high supply and likely not in use, but they also may have higher maintenance needs.
  • Start small. Rather than deploying dozens of desktops at once and inviting your users to go wild with unlimited storage and multiple desktops at once, consider a limited-scale test or demonstration, perhaps with one or two users at the most, using cloud storage. This will be a good way to test protocols, overall performance, and general communication. This can reveal any bugs, display or software problems, or general bandwidth concerns. If everything works as it’s supposed to, then you can start ramping up by connecting more machines or migrating more data to a central cloud.
  • Check licenses. A host computer may be utilizing properly registered and licensed software, but a virtual desktop might not, and some software may not even run in the virtual environment. On the other hand, some licensing services now can offer a cloud subscription or licensing option.
  • Consider your needs. The whole idea of virtual desktops can be unique, maybe even fun, especially when you can run different applications at once and have different experiences on each workspace. But one size definitely doesn’t fit all uses. An organization with more users and more storage needs may want to consider more flash arrays, which can increase compression and de-duplication. If you’re planning on more number-crunching (as opposed to intensive, graphics-oriented tasks), you may not need something so responsive.
  • If you want better graphics for your apps, consider a virtual graphics unit. It has the potential of slowing down your core system but can improve users’ graphics experience. A Discrete Device Assignment can allow graphics cards to be assigned to a virtual machine.

    GPU

  • Stay secure. Smart customization doesn’t have to mean you must create lots of user-friendly options to especially appeal to end-users. It can also mean you take effort to ensure some data is secure and maybe even inaccessible. This can be useful for compliance to show a company is focused on data integrity as well as general privacy.
  • Embrace the future. Cliff Davies, a consultant with Citrix, predicted more companies will begin embracing virtual desktops and warned that even if you’re not ready yet to try them out, your competitors and even your vendors or partners likely already have or at least are trying to learn quickly. Interestingly, he made this prediction way back in 2011, and interest definitely has grown, along with ease of use.
  • Imagine. Microsoft encourages companies to get creative and think of the possibilities that can be accomplished with Azure.

Overall, the experience of virtual desktop use continues to grow and with it various customization tools that can improve efficiency.

To learn more about VDI and how it can benefit your business, give us a call today.