Server virtualisation has been a huge success for reasons that are mostly self evident: readily quantifiable savings on hardware costs and reductions in energy costs have seen widespread adoption over the last few years. By contrast, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) adoption has been slower as enterprises have found it harder to really quantify the ROI, and this in spite of clear evidence that the technology provides distinct deployment, administration, security and mobility advantages over physical desktops.
Today I want to look at correcting that imbalance as I aim to illustrate the clear savings in both capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx) that our solution provides. Research by Gartner, “How to Reduce the Cost of PC Support” (ID Number G00211079, Date 9 March 2011), estimates that the cost per support transaction for a Level 2 Technical Staff Resource ranges from $35 to $250, with a median cost per transaction of $142. This means that savings in support can have a significant impact on your IT budget.
Disk Image Management
For organisations over a certain size, provisioning desktops is a onerous task that is frequently dealt with by creating a master copy of the desktop operating system upon which all the desktops in the organisation is based. Whilst this seems an eminently sensible strategy in reality organisations will find that this master copy, or gold image, alone is insufficient to cover the needs of the organisation. Differences in PC hardware and demands from various departments over their desktop needs means that the organisation will likely have to create and maintain several of these gold images, in some instances a whole library.
Another difficulty faced by enterprises with many desktops to administer is that of keeping the desktops up to date and fully patched against the latest security risks. This is time consuming and, due to variances in the systems across an organisation, there is likely to be a small percentage of updates that fail, resulting in the need for administrators to manually intervene and attempt to diagnose the cause of the problem.
So, for your average organisation, keeping their users up to date with the latest software and security patches can be quite a challenge. With multiple disk images to manage and remotely deploy across the organisation, this can quickly become time consuming. With QVD all the images are managed centrally, and can this be quickly and easily updated and patched. Once pushed from staging into production, deployment of each new update is a simple matter of a user logging out and back in again, whereupon they will be served the latest incarnation of the desktop for their department.
When a user’s desktop malfunctions, for a normal organisation this will mean either costly troubleshooting of the problem or, in the worst case scenario, re-imaging the desktop. In an environment where users are allowed to personalise their desktop experience and have their own desktop profile settings, user installed applications, and local data, these will be lost or have to be restored from a backup. With the QVD, if the administrators have opted for a persistent setup, this simply does not happen. Across each session, the user’s data is stored in their own home directory, along with their settings and any local apps or scripts that they have. Every time they log in, they get the most up to date incarnation of their desktop but, crucially, also their own customisations returned as before.
For a typical organisation, application deployment can be fraught with headaches. They can be deployed remotely but this runs the risk of failure and needing expensive administration time hunting down the problems. One way to get around this is to bake the application directly into the gold image and, of course, for common applications, that is what QVD does and does well. And because the QVD makes it so trivial to provide each department with their own disk image, catering to the needs of different user groups is made much easier and less time consuming.
As well as the operational costs of a large desktop deployment, licensing of each desktop operating system, typically Microsoft Windows, can add a huge burden to the larger enterprise. Volume licensing options can reduce this burden, but with QVD this particular cost is negated by using the freely available and open source Linux. Licensing for each and every desktop from the first onwards comes at the magical price of $0.
Another huge advantage of providing Linux as a desktop is security. An organisation’s intellectual property and the protection of its users is major concern in today’s interconnected world. And this is becoming costly, with additional demands on both CapEx and OpEx. With Linux on the desktop, there is no need for the purchase and upkeep of the multifarious anti-virus and anti-malware products that one associates with a Microsoft Windows environment. Such things are rare in the Linux world, and with your desktop image being stored centrally and essentially read only, the only data you have to worry about is the users’ data. This is stored centrally on your network and thus easier, and cheaper, to scan for security problems.
Backup up each user’s personal settings and documents can be a huge task for larger desktop deployments. With the QVD operating with optional persistent desktops, all this data is stored centrally, typically on an NFS file share, simplifying the task of backing up user data by some magnitude.
As I’ve shown, both CapEx and OpEx can benefit significantly from the deployment of the QVD. Desktop management is not only significantly easier to manage with our VDI solution, but the costs are demonstrably lower than a physical desktop environment.