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The Real Challenge
of Virtual Desktops

Create a real-time, end-to-end view of virtual desktop health, performance and cost drives with Novell Operations Center

Written by Bill Tobey

In concept, the virtual desktop is understandably attractive to the thrift-minded executive. Any sane manager faced with the high costs of provisioning, managing and maintaining a conventional fleet of thick-client desktops would be duty-bound to consider a practical, centralized alternative. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies have been aggressively promoted as exactly that alternative—more economical, manageable and defensible by nature—and pilot-scale results have been very promising.

Production deployments, though, have often failed to deliver the promised goods. Costs have been higher than expected. Storage requirements have grown uncontrollably. Performance has been underwhelming and the user experience uninspiring. Nevertheless, new deployments continue as organizations look past the challenges and reach for the short-term hardware savings. Needless to say, far better results can be achieved by baking in the management at the outset.

The Challenge: Many Moving Parts, No Single Management View

The roots of VDI under performance lie in the complexity of most solution architectures. While there are several variations, a typical VDI environment includes a thin-client device on each user’s desktop, a desktop system image running on a virtual machine, associated storage in a central repository and all the connecting networks. Because data and execution resources are always remote, VDI performance is highly network dependent.

In addition to these core elements, a production-scale VDI requires support services from a variety of management tools, most of which will already be present in any enterprise environment. These include:

  • A provisioning orchestration service to automate user provisioning in response to role and employment status events
  • An identity management service to provide central user authentication and role-based access management
  • A virtual systems management service to monitor VM health and performance
  • Physical systems management services that provide the same health and performance monitoring functionality for the servers, storage and network resources that support the virtual environment
  • A service desk system for reporting and troubleshooting service problems
  • A user experience monitoring service to measure and track VDI performance from the end user’s perspective.

All of these services are provided through separate, siloed management environments, each with its own data set, repository, administrative console and system view. Individually they provide little or no visibility into problems that may develop across and between the service layers, which is exactly where the problems that undermine VDI cost and performance typically arise.

In short, a VDI is exactly the type of mission-critical business service that demands service-oriented management, beginning with an end-to-end view across all the infrastructure elements, components and systems that contribute to its delivery.

The Solution: Manage VDI as a Service with Novell Operations Center

In short, a VDI is exactly the type of mission-critical business service that demands service-oriented management, beginning with an end-to-end view across all the infrastructure elements, components and systems that contribute to its delivery. Creating those integrated views across multiple domains and management environments is precisely the purpose of Novell Operations Center, the business service management component of our WorkloadIQ solution stack.

As a Connection reader, you probably know that Novell Operations Center provides management, monitoring and measurement of key business services across physical, virtual and cloud environments. It monitors service performance and availability, maps the relationships between services and the underlying infrastructure, and provides automated real-time measurement. It integrates the outputs of existing management tools with business context, creating a business-centric view of the most complex IT environments.

By using Novell Operations Center to create a dedicated real-time management dashboard for your VDI, you can gain an integrated, correlated view of all significant events that affect its health and performance, prioritized by their business impacts, no matter where in your IT environment they occur. You’ll be able to identify and address emerging issues quickly and effectively, before they can inflate costs or degrade performance.

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