VDI: Strategies to Get You Started

VDI is a growing trend but fraught with complexities. Here are several strategies to consider before taking the plunge.

By  Virtualization, vdi

2. Pick your hypervisor. There are four major VM hypervisor suppliers: VMware, Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft and Sun -- listed in order of their suitability for VDI from best to least. All sell VM servers such as VMware's ESX that are good solutions for VDI, (and in Citrix' case, Xen Server is now free) but once you start down the path of one vendor's products, it isn't easy to switch or mix and match. As part of this step, think about what actual server hardware will be used to house all of your virtual desktop images. You'll want to have a machine with as much RAM installed as possible, because each virtual session eats up this memory quickly. As part of this step, look carefully at what servers you will end up hosting all your virtual desktop sessions and make sure that it can handle all these VMs properly.

3. Understand connection brokers. This is the software piece that determines what remote desktop a user is assigned to and how they connect to the central storage repository of boot images. They include management and monitoring functions as well. The all-in-one bundles include their own brokers as part of their VDI solutions, but a notable third-party solution is LeoStream's Virtual Desktop Connection Broker.

4. Consider thin or embedded clients. The logical next step is to understand what will be sitting on top of your end users' desktops. Based on which hypervisor and whether you are using a bundled product, it is time to consider what your eventual client device is going to be that will run your virtual desktop. Some clients work with specific brokers, remote protocols, and applications better than others. There are several vendors that sell specialized thin client devices, including:

In addition to these devices there are other choices too. First is a special embedded version of Windows XP called the Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs that is attractive for some installations. Or you can choose to reuse older PCs and run a virtual machine from them. Realize that not every thin client will work with every hypervisor so it is important to check into that compatibility too. Thin clients don't always work for all situations -- remember our list above?

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