labs@workcommentary Split the desktop Virtual desktop technology can separate work from play on user systems that permit both.Ca meron Sturdevant
hen business workloads run on
hardware that also supports per-sonal-use applications, IT needs to
intervene to protect the business.
One method of separation that I' ve been exploring is the use of desktop virtual machines and
centrally managed virtual desktop infrastructure.
Virtual desktop products are one of the best
ways to keep work and play separated on common
hardware. So why does it seem that VDI has an
uphill battle when it comes to implementation?
If one thing is clear, it' s that users have generally
developed configuration-complexity habits. And
despite the marketing hype, complexity is the enemy
of VDI. It' s also, by the way, the
enemy of productivity.
Because most Windows
users run with administrator
rights, their desktop and laptop systems quickly become
a customized den of family
photos, music play lists, idiosyncratic games, screen savers
and any manner of border-line-legit copyrighted content.
This mess is usually encased in a grim veneer of
ª You touch this, and you' ll draw back a stump.º
A great next step is to simplify the work side of
the equation. Ruthlessly determine which applica-
tions are required for user job performance. Make
it an IT mission to be the best at providing and
supporting those required applications. Be quick,
efficient and inexpensive. Once that' s done, simplify
some more. I think that VDI is among the most
promising technologies to deliver on this milestone.
After cutting users loose from IT support and
simplifying the business desktop, look at license
use. Make it a mantra never to ª pay twice, run once.º
Doubling desktop operating system license fees is a
great way to suck the life out of a virtualization project.
So, for example, don't pay for a license to run
a PC operating system on the hardware and then
pay again for a license to run that same operating system on the virtual machine on which the
business workload is running. One of the chief
reasons is embodied in my next rule.
Don' t double IT support work to get the same level
of user productivity. In other words, think carefully
about a desktop virtualization plan that requires the
same patch/password/update process on the physical user systems that you have
today and then adds a patch/
password/update process on
the virtual desktops that will be
supported on the user system.
Thin- or zero-client devices
or bare-metal hypervisor technologies (see the Nx Top review
on page 16) are compelling
alternatives that drastically
reduce device-support costs and
serve as a base for a successful VDI implementation.
For this to work, IT must persuade executives to
lead by example and publicly give up all the excep-tion-based loopholes that let them surf whatever site
they wish for as long as they wish. Executives should
adopt a corporate standard desktop background and
eschew vacation pictures as desktop backgrounds.
Also, executives should put a public premium
on simplified workplace desktopsÐ those with only
essential applications. They should back an IT strategy
that drives a burning line between work and play on
user systems where both types of workloads cohabi-tateÐ likely a strategy that uses virtual machines. «
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be
reached at email@example.com.
` make it clear that only the work side of the system is going to be supported by it.'