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Frontier on Virtual Desktop or Desktop as a Service (there are too many ‘x’ as a service labels now)

By April 29, 2012 General

Virtual desktop infrastructure, sometimes referred to as virtual desktop interface (VDI) is the server computing model enabling desktop virtualization, encompassing the hardware and software systems required to support the virtualized environment.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the practice of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on a hosted, centralized or remote server. The term was coined by VMware Inc.

Many enterprise-level implementations of this technology store the resulting “virtualized” desktop on a remote central server, instead of on the local storage of a remote client; thus, when users work from their local machine, all of the programs, applications, processes, and data used are kept on the server and run centrally. This allows users to run an operating system and execute applications from a smartphone or thin client which exceed the user hardware’s ability to run.

Which platforms are the best? There are many, each have their own merits.

  • VMware has a VDI product called VMware View
  • Citrix has a VDI product called XenDesktop
  • Red Hat has a VDI solution integrated into Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization RHEV
  • Microsoft included a technology called virtual desktop infrastructure in Windows Server 2008 (now Microsoft Hyper-V)
  • Intel has built hardware virtualization support into its processors, citing a growing need for client-hosted virtualization

There are essentially four models for VDI operation.

  • Hosted (delivered as a service)
  • Centralized
  • Remote Synchronization
  • Client-Hosted

Both Hosted and Centralized modes rely upon a constant network or internet connection to the server where the VDI instance is running. This model is similar in concept to thin clients, in that the client device only displays the virtual desktop. For this reason, a constant Frontier network (Internet or MPLS) connection is required.

The Remote Synchronization model allows users to copy a VDI instance to a system, and then run the virtual desktop without a connection. In this model, users normally use virtual machines that are running on a centralized server, but can copy an image to be used locally when traveling. This dis-connected or untethered mode of operation has its own set of advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional desktops and centralized VDI desktops.

The Client-hosted model only uses centralized servers to manage virtual machine images, always running virtual machines on laptops or desktops. Local execution eliminates the infrastructure required for VDI execution servers in the data center and also reduces network bandwidth consumption since the virtual machines are executing locally and not over a remote network.

There are obstacles to VDI. Here are a few of the common ones.

  1. VDI requires the desktop, storage, network, virtualization and data center guys to work together.
  2. The nature of desktops has changed, but many IT organizations are at a standstill, unsure how to respond.
  3. Some people believe VDI is too costly, complex, and ineffective.
  4. Companies are still looking to squeeze efficiencies out of their current investments.
  5. VDI has been slow to promote successes.

Our personal opinion? Point 1, the need for existing network and desktop support providers and Network providers to work together. Face it, most people don’t work well with other parties, particularly when competing firms ‘fight’ for account control and dominance. We see this with the ‘big telco’s’ and with some of the smaller, ‘over-reaching’ network providers. It is in this area that Frontier demonstrates leadership. Fact is, we work well with others, and we like working with others.

Frontier has a great solution for Virtual Desktop or what can be called Desktop as a Service (there are too many ‘x’ as a service labels now). Ours is to provide the colocation, broadband and underlying ‘infrastructure and platform and ‘openly collaborate‘ with our client’s existing IT integrators to leverage the existing relationships that exist.

We are proud to have worked with several qualified integrators and have together created many private” customer “cloud’s”.

Our view, we are not here to displace your existing desktop or server admin team, but rather to work with them. Involving Frontier, we believe, will help better prioritize resources, reduce hiring strain, and simplify support. We a are here to help leverage our neutral colocation in a way that adds more redundancy and resiliency to IT Data.