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Desktop virtualization: Putting VDI to work for you

Priorities for midsize companies are shifting as they look for new ways to stimulate growth and improve the customer experience using existing IT dollars and headcounts. But managing desktop and mobile systems can be a time-consuming and expensive challenge for IT employees who have to balance this with lowering security risks, application upgrades and help driving growth initiatives.

To help meet this challenge, many organizations are adopting virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions. From an IT perspective, VDI helps reduce desktop management costs, extend the life of existing desktops, and improve management and control. On a smarter planet, and rapidly changing global marketplace, this efficiency is key when you consider that it can cost up to 10 times more to manage desktops than to acquire them.

For end users like today's highly mobile workforce, VDI provides more secure, flexible access. Whether it's from the airport, the coffee shop or the board room, VDI allows employees use the computing device of their choice to access a consistent desktop experience.

With VDI, companies are working smarter and making better use of their information and resources. "Second generation VDI technology is enabling organizations to innovate, be more productive, lower business risks, and ultimately, lower the total cost of ownership," says IBM's Ken Tacelli, Americas Sales Executive for Smart Business

A new portal to the desktop experience

As a concept, VDI is a platform-agnostic computing model that allows users to access a consistent desktop experience regardless of when, where and how they work. The experience of using VDI is no different from using a local desktop. But with VDI, user programs, applications, processes and data reside on a remote central server that can be seamlessly accessed from anywhere, on any device. In this way, VDI enables IT staff to deploy, provision, maintain and manage users’ desktops centrally, cutting desktop administration time, labor and costs.

"With VDI, your physical device becomes a portal to the desktop experience that's happening at the central server," says Tacelli. "You can get a lot more done with fewer people, and it allows you to focus on strategic initiatives instead of now, where you spend 70 percent of your time and budget in IT on existing infrastructure."

Virtual desktop, real benefits

Today's second generation VDI solutions are removing resource and complexity issues and giving companies more business value more quickly from their IT dollars.

One of the key benefits of VDI is automated management. With VDI, patching and compliance tasks become automated to improve security and reduce complexity. Suddenly, IT can manage virtual desktops from one portal or management environment. In the event of local device failure, loss or theft, data can be quickly recovered—because it’s not on the device itself. Fully integrated backup and recovery components of VDI help protect against unplanned outages from minor incidents or catastrophic failures

"If somebody loses their laptop in an airport, you've obviously got a security issue around where that data is going, and you've got security risks around where the information is actually traveling within your organization," says Tacelli. "VDI allows the IT organization to have greater control over that entire desktop environment, whether they want to lock it down, or control what you can or cannot put on that desktop environment. Ultimately, it helps organizations control how information flows.”

With customizable configurations, VDI allows IT staff to customize "golden" virtual desktop images for different types of users. For example, IT can tailor different images for power users and casual users, and these images can be further tweaked for sales, human resources or other company departments

At IBM, this technology is called dynamic personal sessions. “You log in from anywhere, any device, and you’re getting your desktop view the way it was when you last left it," explains Tacelli. "One of the things the IT folks will tell you is, 'I need to make sure that my user experience is the same. I cannot have a degradation in the user experience.' With our dynamic personal sessions, the users really have no different experience than they would if they were just physically running around with the same laptop.”

Integrated offline access is another IBM feature that is driving enthusiastic response to VDI, according to Tacelli. The ability to work on a virtual desktop whether the user is online or offline has been a major technological advance, he says, because users no longer have to be connected to their corporate network in order to use their desktop. With offline access, users can continue to work on their desktops while offline. As soon as they go back online, the technology seamlessly syncs any changes between the device they are using and a central server

Another value proposition unique to IBM is the seamless performance offered through technology called remote branch office capability. Tacelli says one of the biggest concerns for end users is high network latency, which leads to sluggish performance. Remote branch capability, Tacelli adds, effectively negates latency problems. "Most organizations we talk to want to have that capability, and it becomes a real game-changer as far as making a decision to go forward with VDI," says Tacelli. “For organizations with branch offices or organizations that are very spread out, it reduces that latency issue.”

 

"Second generation VDI technology is enabling organizations to innovate, be more productive, lower business risks, and ultimately, lower the total cost of ownership."

 

The time for VDI is now

IT complexity can slow down progress and impede a company's ability to respond to opportunities. VDI solutions enable companies to work smarter by reducing the cost of maintaining their IT infrastructure, and freeing up IT resources to deliver higher value IT services.

VDI can also help tap the potential of today's mobile workforce by allowing workers to use the computing device of their choice in a manner that is consistent and secure. The result is a smarter way to do business that increases agility, lowers costs and reduces risk.

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