We recently had a very successful VDI Expert Series Webinar on July 16 with both analyst firm EMA and storage provider Netapp titled “Storage Best Practices for High Def VDI.” Not only did the live event draw close to 400 attendees, over 3/4 of you stayed on through the end of the webinar. For those of you who might have missed the webinar, do not despair. You can watch the archived webinar On Demand Here. As promised, we have listed the FAQs as well as the unanswered questions from the webinar below:
FAQ: We are interested in implementing VDI but are concerned about the upfront Capital Expenditure. How can I roll this out cost effectively, given a limited budget?
Answer: While a complete cutover from distributed desktops to hosted VDI entails significant capital expenditure, it is possible to implement VDI using a phased approach. You can use your older legacy (> 3 years old) desktops with hosted virtual desktops, thereby extending your desktop refresh cycle. For desktops which are already up for refresh, consider using your desktop refresh budget to replace your desktops and laptops with thin clients in a complete hosted VDI approach. Then when your older legacy desktops must be replaced, you can subsequently replace them with thin clients and/or laptops.
FAQ: Is there any kind of guideline (CPU, memory, etc.) for deciding between productivity, knowledge, and power worker/user? Miscategorizing someone could be a painful mistake.
Answer: This is certainly a “your mileage may vary” area, but we have published some discussions about designing desktops for a variety of use cases in a design paper on our website. Typically pilots start with similar allocations of CPU and RAM as the physical device they are currently using. The nice thing is that in a VM you certainly have the ability to adjust the virtual resources without a screwdriver
FAQ: What differentiates the Citrix + Netapp VDI solution from the one from VMware?
Answer: As outlined in the detailed competitive comparison on our website, the Citrix + Netapp VDI solution differs from the one from VMware in four key areas:
1. User Experience: Citrix’s HDX Technologies optimizes the user experience by leveraging integrated client/endpoint-, server-, or network side technologies to allow users an optimal high definition user experience to a broad range of applications – streaming media, Flash, audio, 3D graphics, etc – over both the Local Area Network and the Wide Area Network. This is in stark contrast to VMware View, which will work for LAN use cases, but not for the WAN.
2. Application Management: The Citrix + Netapp VDI solution includes integrated XenApp, Citrix’s proven application virtualization solution, which works with 1000’s of Windows applications, in either a Hosted or Streamed mode. VMware View integrates with VMware’s ThinApp application virtualization technology. However, the VMware View solution requires bundling all delivered applications into the VM, which makes application delivery much more cumbersome and difficult to manage.
3. Flexibility: The Citrix + Netapp VDI solution offers IT organizations the flexibility to use a variety of VM Infrastructure – Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, or VMware ESX. By contrast, VMware View ties an IT organization to only VMware ESX. This gives the customers the flexibility to choose the most powerful cost-effective best-of-breed VDI solution.
4. Policy-based access control: The Citrix + Netapp VDI solution leverages a familiar Microsoft and/or Citrix management user interface for managing granular - by user groups or individuals – access to data and applications.
Question: When backing up and restoring a user’s virtual desktop, is it possible to only backup/restore a user’s MyDocuments or data folders?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to use Netapp technology to back up entire VM’s or just specific sets of user data.
Question: Today we obtain OEM licenses for Windows OS via the HW vendor. If we use VDI - do we have to buy expensive Microsoft OS licenses? Doesn’t that increase our costs?
Answer: While VDI requires purchasing Microsoft Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop OS licenses, the net costs can be approximately equivalent to what one pays today for local desktop OS licenses. You need one Microsoft Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) license per device, which allows the licensed device to access up to four virtual desktops concurrently. More desktop instances could be centrally stored, but not accessed at the same time by the same device, without purchasing an additional VECD license.
Question: What kind of servers (RAM, CPU) would i need to host let’s say about 200 PC’s, for basic Microsoft Word, Outlook and printing?
Answer: You may find this Citrix VDI design paper useful, because it provides technical guidelines for many different scenarios.
Question: What about support for USB devices? Special keyboard (like Bloomberg), video cameras, multi-button mice, etc…
Answer: Citrix XenDesktop supports many USB devices via its HDX Technologies. Many USB devices such as SmartPhones, mice, keyboard, scanners, printers, smart cards, graphics tablets work right out of the gate. There are a couple keys on the Bloomberg keyboard that require some more devleopment work to claim complete support. Support for isochronous devices – like webcams – is under development and planned for an upcoming release. Please see the following support article for details.
Question: Is there a subscription model of VDI services that a SMB market segment can subscribe to?
Answer: The SMB market segment may possibly leverage a subscription or hosted model of VDI. Citrix partners are working on making this available. Please visit http://www.citrix.com/xendesktop for updates.
Question: What is the best way to handle Outlook OST files inside a Thin Provisioned virtual machine? We have a client that must have cached mode on in Outlook, and using Standard Image Mode, we would have to flex that giant file with the user’s profile.
Answer: Yes, a best practice for handling Outlook OST files is to store the OST files on a network-shared and accessible drive so the user Outlook data follows the users, wherever he or she may be. It is therefore necessary to store the user OST files with the user’s profile accordingly.
For more detailed storage and image management best practices, please take a look at the Optimizing Storage and Image Management blog posts part 1 and part 2. For more detailed information about Citrix XenDesktop, please visit the XenDesktop product page.