Desktop virtualization has been making strong inroads in today’s workforce. Success stories abound on how firms are benefiting from the move to desktop virtualization. Right from tellers at banks to customer service executives at BPO’s to mobile business executives – it has brought about a difference in IT operations and provided tangible benefits. However, there have rarely been examples surrounding desktop virtualization for power users. Power users are typically coders, testers, graphic artists, designers, scientists requiring complex calculation outputs, research analysts etc. Basically, anyone requiring intense compute and storage power with a highly customizable system in tow.
The reason isn’t hard to find. The need for high processing power, storage, non-standard, highly individualistic & customized nature of each users system has its own implementation challenges. Add to it the expectations of users for a performance akin to, if not exceeding, the normal desktop environment that they are used to.
However in our experience there is no reason why power users have to be devoid of the benefits that desktop virtualization offers. The challenge lies in delivering high compute & storage without negating the business case. An added challenge is delivering IT simplicity & efficiency without compromising on customization needed.
We undertook a similar exercise for a global managed analytics provider. The firm provides services in market research, retail and brand pricing. Users were made up primarily of three major types:
- Analysts, who did client research & generated reports out of reams of data.
- Programmers, who created custom built applications suited for each client engagement.
- Testers, who tested the applications developed on different platforms & use case scenarios.
Employees use the proprietary big data platform as well as over 130+ applications including IBM SPPS, IBM Dimension 6, Flowspeed, FTP, and several different industry platforms to deliver results. In addition, several applications had customized outlook plug-ins. Its technology infrastructure can best be described as one requiring high compute & storage, non-standard & highly customized yet one requiring accelerated provisioning, flexibility of ramp-ups and ramp downs and rapid roll-outs and updates.
In such a scenario while it is normal for VDI implementers to focus on uniformity & standardization, a one size fits all approach to VDI implementation just doesn’t apply. On the other hand, to address the individualistic customization needs, one might end up over-provisioning resources which can lead to a VM sprawl where it becomes difficult for the administrator to manage efficiently. Although VMs are easily created, they have the same licensing, support, security and compliance issues that physical machines do, this can defeat the gains of virtualization. The skill lies in walking the fine line between customization & standardization. We are glad to report, the company is currently considering expanding their virtualized set up.
Virtualization has several benefits – reducing TCO, improving application delivery and end-user experience being the more significant ones. The key to reap these benefits lies not only in realizing the type of virtualization best suited to your business requirements, but also in choosing the right technology partner capable of guiding you through and beyond your infrastructure overhaul.