Desktop cloud: take it easy with IBM SmartCloud Provisioning and non-persistent VMs
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If we think at the benefits of adopting desktop cloud, some of them really jump powerfully in front of the eyes: the IT team can really enforce standardization (e.g. you can select as desktop only one of the proposed flavours); the maintenance of the hw becomes far easier given its consolidation; old, out-dated PCs can be used just as connectors to the desktop hence gaining new life. From the desktop user point of view he does no longer need to carry on some company asset to work: healthier (no more heavy hw to take home or travelling); safer (data is in the cloud).
But this is nothing new, desktop cloud solution are already on the market, so let's see if IBM SmartCloud Provisioning can bring additional benefits to the desktop world.
What if we start dealing with non-persistent desktop images?
Non-persistent images are the ones that disappear once you shut them down. You might be asking yourself “well, that's not so clever, what about my data? Are they lost?”. This is actually a very good point and this is the keystone of the benefits coming with the adoption of non-persistent images.
The idea is that all user data get stored into external (persistent) volumes that can be attached/detached on demand to the non-persistent image.If we now apply this technology to the desktop world, it shed an interesting new light on some typical and painful scenarios:
In a traditional infrastructure, when the operating system goes or is getting close to go out of maintenance, a massive migration campaign starts: all desktops need to be migrated. Now the migration statistically does not go smoothly for all users and hence some of them will be stuck even for days. If you use non-persistent images, you can easily overcome this either creating a new master image with the new operating system or upgrading a single instance of the image, do your test campaign to make sure everything keeps working, then deploy it in as many instances as the desktops you need to upgrade are, attach to the new images the volumes with the user data and get rid of the old images. If you leverage the incredible deployment speed of IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, you'll have a brand new set of desktops in minutes.
Analogously we may think about patching the operating system or a software running on the desktop: they key idea behind this is that you're always going to patch either the operating system or a specific software, never the user data that keep living into separate volumes.
If we think at the compliance aspect, remember that the user cannot save any change he does on the boot disk of the image since nothing gets ever stored on the disk. He is only empowered to write his own stuff on the additional volumes. This should discourage him from even trying installing new software or editing the operating system configuration, since everything will be lost at the first shutdown.I know in your company you may have different configuration flavours of the same operating system according to the department for which the desktop is tailored. For example you may need to have different firewall configurations according to the security level the end user is entitled to. Well, with IBM SmartCloud Provisioning you can leverage the User Data field at deployment time to specify these special configurations. Of course this may even not be shown to the end user, but you may mask it enlarging the list of the offering with the specific configuration. Under the covers the instance is launched with the proper parameters: no master image duplication, no manual configuration; everything is automated and standardized.
What about optimizing resources? Desktops by their nature have all the same operating system and configuration (at least for department),usually they come also with the same applications installed on top. If you deal with non-persistent images you are just saving lots of duplicated, useless copies of the same operating systems and software on the disk. Then, if you think that once the desktop is shut down, its resources are released (i.e. cores and memory), you can better optimize your hardware using those resources for other applications/users (they may even be server application or desktops for users residing in a different timezone).
New employees coming on board? A project outsourced to an external work-force?
You may want to have this people productive more than immediately. With IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, their desktops will be up and running in seconds.
See IBM SmartCloud Provisioning working in a recorded demo