The Move to Virtual Desktops: Part 1

The move to virtual desktops from physical is not one made on the ROI number alone. There has to be a reason a root case study that drives the decision. For many it’s the idea that man hours will be saved on patching, still others it’s the goal to standardize the enterprise. But regardless of the initial premise the question remains does it make sense and will it work for the environment.

The Assessment:

Every Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) engagement needs to have an assessment phase as the first step. Whether it’s pre or post sales it has to happen. How else will you know if making the investment for a full blown deployment even makes sense. Maybe you have 1,000 employees who all work in PhotoShop all day long, on high end workstations. Just because a slick salesperson in a nice business suit told you the benefits of VDI doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Those 1000 employees are not going to be happy with a VDI solution that is “affordable” you will need to spring for larger servers than you would if you only had employees who work on the web and with email all day long. The use case of standardization here doesn’t apply but maybe you don’t realize that until you have the assessment done.

What to look for in an assessment? 

I like to ensure that I provide data for what machines make good candidates, and which ones don’t for virtualizing. I also like to have the justifications for both classifications, sometimes in an assessment a machine will show with High CPU utilization through out the day, which may red flag it as a bad candidate, but when you dig a little deeper all that CPU is going towards a bad install of Anti-virus. Other times you will see a user has a machine that is far under powered for the tasks they perform. Other useful information I like to provide is Disk utilization to help calculate the necessary IOPs or Disk ReadsWrites. IOPs are more crucial to a VDI than the servers that host it. Look at user data, how large are profiles, and what applications are used the most frequently. These items will help to determine what profile management method should be used, and what applications to target for virtualization. The aggregate of this data will help to determine the size and scope of any pilot, as well as what the “Golden” Image will look like.

All in all an assessment done right is worth the cost, it may just save you from betting the farm on a solution that doesn’t fit your enterprise.

Coming Soon: Part 2 – Pilot Plan and Design 

File Sharing in the Cloud: BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud)?

Virtual file shares and collaboration seem to be the rage in IT sector right now. Rightfully so, how else will we share all the documents and pictures that we create? Or centrally collaborate and track the version of the document that the whole team is working on? Sure, SharePoint has been around and is getting better, E-room is an option but can be somewhat cumbersome to manage. But users want the ability to open their files in alternate browsers not just IE, and they want to open them on different devices (tablets, phones, Macs, and Linux machines). 
Mozy has a solution, there is Box.com, and Microsoft SkyDrive, don’t forget iCloud and we have all heard of Dropbox. While all of these options are cloud based they are all public cloud hosted, which presents security questions of who owns the files and who really knows what is being shared about your content. These questions and the proliferation of corporate private clouds are what is driving VMware’s Project Octopus. I will be testing the Beta release in June, which means we are still a little far out from the Gold release, but the market is looking in that direction, and not just VMware.
How are you currently sharing files in your organization? 

What is ITaaS and what does it mean to you?

What is ITaaS?                 

That question gets asked a lot, if you aren’t a CIO who is trying to get a budget approved you probably have no idea. IT as a Service is the idea of providing charge back capability for the IT industry internal to each organization. So if the Finance group uses X amount of processing power the IT group can gain a higher share of their annual budget for the necessary compute power.

So fast forward to today, now ITaaS is the buzz “word” or acronym, that means let’s put it in the data center on a VM and provide it to the end user via a delivery mechanism, universally to any device. So what is the latest and greatest to the table? VaaS, Voice as a Service, now you can virtualize the voice infrastructure and provide the end users with soft phones or SIPIP phones across the same network as your data, only a VLAN away. The solution which is furthest along is Mitel, who actually have a full range of virtual appliances capable of running on VMware ESXi that provide not only voice, but instant messaging, web presence, and collaboration capabilities. With the ability to stand these services up with VMware’s Site Recovery Management (SRM) and the universality of SIP trunk delivery, voice for the first time can be treated like the critical app it is, and be included in the Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity Planning of your organization.

You may not know what ITaaS is, but if you are reading this blog you probably want a bigger IT budget, and the more you can provide in your data infrastructure the easier it is to justify that budget. Look around your server room at the names on the labels, you will see SharePoint, Deltek, SAP, etc, then you look at the back wall at your PBX or in the rack at the Cisco Call Management suite that is run by the telecom guys and not the IT team, and let the dollar signs roll around in your head. You will realize real quick that if you want the latest technology in your IT dept the fastest way to get their is to start looking at providing everything as a service, and reducing your footprint through virtualization to reduce the capital costs of running the server farm to do it.

What has ITaaS done for you?

For more information check out this article from Boston Technology I think it delves into the issue really well covering all the business aspects.