A closer look at storage and virtual desktops

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is becoming a hot topic in the wake of server virtualisation. It was one of the areas that generated the most attention at the recent IPExpo 2010 in October and certainly looks to gain momentum in the following few years as companies complete their server virtualisation programmes and look to transfer that knowledge to the desktop. However, assuming that server virtualisation knowledge is enough to then go and virtualise the PCs in your environment is where you may well come unstuck. There is a killer named IOPS lurking in the shadows, which you ignore at your peril! Firstly we must understand the problem when tackling the problem of desktop virtualisation. The intial startup and login A Windows PC running on a local hard drive generally uses a IDE or SATA drive running at 5400 or 7200 rpm. Typically these disks can deliver 40 or 50 IOPS (Input Outputs Per Second), which is enough for a single user. When a PC starts it loads the basic OS and a number of services. Many of these services that exist specifically to optimise a physical disk environment, such as indexing and prefetching, and produce a lot of IOPS that may benefit a single disk system but when combined with many other virtual desktops can cripple a virtual desktop system. The amount of IOPS a Windows client produces varies according to the applications loaded and how heavy the use is, but generally 8 to 10 IOPS for a the average user and 14 to 20 IOPS for heavy users is not too far off the mark. However, what is...
Keep working whatever the weather with virtual desktops

Keep working whatever the weather with virtual desktops

So here we are in the first official week of winter, and already a good part of the country has had to deal with the disruption caused by the kind of winter weather that just 6 weeks ago completely failed to be forecast by the Met Office (http://bit.ly/h2crAe). This is the second time in less than 12 months that people have not been able to get to work on a large scale, with a cost to business running into £ billions at a time when we can least afford it. Although many people just HAVE to physically get into work there are many others that have a desk and a computer, and as long as they have access to the information they need could easily do the same job wherever they were located. This is where the benefits of virtual desktops really kick in. More and more companies are seeing that flexible working arrangements can save them money but also lead to increased productivity by enabling work to be done without the requirement of staff to submit themselves to long commutes, which invariably become longer through a creaking transport system and events such as the latest snow and ice problems. We have all our systems centrally located in a data centre and can log in to our desktop either from the local office or home and get the same desktop, applications and access to data with no security implications; as no direct external access to the corporate network is required. No VPNs to set up for each remote worker, no managing different username and passwords, and no change in...