Virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a revolutionary and potentially valuable technology for businesses, especially SMBs. Yet actual implementations have fallen short of initial expectations, due to the difficulty of incorporating virtualisation strategy into fundamental business change.
At the moment, most VDI deployments require a staggering number of servers and additional hardware, resulting in a costly and labour-intensive installation with requisite network downtime and training commitments. So we haven't seen too many deployments within the SMB space so far.
But more businesses are becoming aware of the benefits of virtualisation, which is becoming the top way to save money in enterprises. Server virtualisation, for example, is becoming widespread.
Some storage vendors are beginning to develop an idea you might call VDI "out of the box", which aims to make it easier for organisations to virtualise. Plug-and-play virtual desktop installation can be delivered to almost any client device, including desktops, laptops, thin clients and tablets.
This is a significant development, as it allows businesses, especially SMBs, to virtualise their infrastructure cost-effectively without reducing performance. Plug-and-play technology should mean easy manageability and scalability, as well as less laborious installation.
It also means less hardware is required to support the solution and gives businesses the ability to deploy distributed virtual desktops. This will eventually translate into minimal management and fewer routine support tasks.
"Out of the box" VDI will enable SMBs to enjoy the same desktop virtualisation benefits as their large enterprise counterparts.
Converged virtualisation software and the right storage architecture can be helpful here.
It is important to get storage right before getting into VDI. Storage infrastructure and VDI are often developed separately, which means that there is usually a problem matching the virtual desktop with the storage required.
Expanding storage needs must also be considered. Clustered storage offerings are flexible and distributed, and combining these with virtualised servers means the customer can add nodes as the organisation grows.
Matt McPhail is a global systems engineer at Scale Computing
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