Designing IT infrastructures built upon virtualization technologies takes up a good amount of my time. It is important that I keep up-to-date on the latest technologies, and when friends both from within my company and outside of it started talking about Atlantis Computing’s product Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI I became curious. VDI solution’s storage needs are tough to size right, because unlike a server environment desktops are unpredictable in how they utilize resources. The reason for this is because end-users are unpredictable in how they will use the desktop. End-users may not need the redundancy and reliability that we demand of a server, but end-users do require performance and versatility so that they can respond to whatever task becomes their highest priority.
How many times a day do you switch from your email, to a word processing application, to a spreadsheet, to a browser, and then right back to your email? Your email server does nothing but deliver and send messages all day long, but your desktop? Your desktop is a jack-of-all-trades. It is a Swiss army knife for productivity, and some VDI solutions turn out to have dull blades.
Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI gives VDI solutions a nice razor sharp edge though, because it eliminates the storage bottleneck that usually cripples a VDI environment. You can learn more from the website, but the basic solution uses a virtual appliance running on the hypervisor to streamline the data sent between the VMs and the storage infrastructure. ILIO accomplishes this by leveraging the hypervisor’s RAM as storage for the VMs which is both faster and much more cost-effective than high performing SAN technologies.
But there is something else that I want to check out, and that is a great free book that you may have heard of before when it was originally released as The VDI Delusion. It has been revised and updated as the The New VDI Reality through Atlantis Computing and DevonIT (a manufacturer of thin client hardware and software). I usually am unimpressed by books given away by manufacturers as they often tend to be nothing more than commercials in novel format. The New VDI Reality surprised me though, because it is anything but a one-sided product endorsement. In fact, reading this book may convince you that a VDI solution is the wrong technology for your end-users.
The New VDI Reality breaks down the hype of VDI. It dismisses the wild claims that many a poor VDI administrator pinned their hopes upon only to see their VDI solution fail to deliver even the most meager of experiences to end-users. This book is an honest look at VDI written by experienced VDI advocates.
Is VDI cheaper than physical desktops? Not always, and more to the point what if physical desktops are still the better solution even if they are more expensive? Too often the real bottom line is influenced by end-user productivity, and a cheaper VDI solution might actually make your end-users less productive.
Are VDI desktops easier to manage than physical desktops? No, because if you are unable to manage your current desktops there is no VDI solution that is suddenly going to come in and magically put things in order. Maintaining and managing desktops is hard work! Desktops being virtual or physical does not eliminate that work. Desktops being virtual or physical just changes how you do the work.
These are the kinds of topics that the authors of The New VDI Reality address with strong logic and entertaining humor. Yes, I said entertaining which is usually never the case with a good IT book. I actually enjoyed reading the The New VDI Reality, and it made me think of the first VDI project that I was ever a part of.
Why? Because that project fell flat on its face as the business sponsor it did not want to listen to the truth that his dream of a VDI solution for all of our conference room desktops was not going to work. Our end-users did not use the conference room desktops to write office memos and update timesheets with which was about all that a VDI solution was good for at the time. Our end-users used the conference room desktops to deliver vivid presentations with and to play training videos on. Maybe if I had had a copy of The New VDI Reality to hand that sponsor we all could have saved ourselves and the company a lot of time and money.
Of course, now it might be possible to actually deliver that ideal conference room desktop experience with a VDI solution. The only way I would know is if I were to build it, and after reading The New VDI Reality and seeing what Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI can do I am much more confident that I can deliver a robust VDI solution for that and many other business scenarios.
So check out both Atlantis Computing and The New VDI Reality if you are considering or need to improve upon a VDI solution for your organization. You might be surprised by what you learn, and there is nothing like seeing new technologies actually deliver on old promises!