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Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise


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Successful Strategies to Guide Project Planning and Decision-Making Using AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment

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Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise

  1. 1. WHITEPAPER Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise Successful Strategies to Guide Project Planning and Decision-Making Using AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment
  2. 2. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 2 Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise Successful Strategies to Guide Project Planning and Decision-Making Using AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise The enterprise desktop has evolved from a singular concept of hardware, software, and operating system, into a comprehensive solution of technologies. Today’s users require a flexible work environment wherever they are, on any device, and with the same personalized and consistent experience they are used to on a traditional desktop. This increased demand for desktop virtualization originated from the consumerization of IT, additional security and regulatory compliance requirements, blending of work lifestyles, and an increased scrutiny of IT spending. Based on these needs, software and hardware companies responded by creating new technologies and merging them with existing technologies to develop virtual desktops available to users wherever they need them and on any device while maintaining security, manageability, and cost-effectiveness. The desktop of today is a combination of traditional and virtual desktops. In this new model, the desktop is separated into individual layers (operating system, applications, and data), transforming these layers into resources that can be combined to meet the needs of users, wherever they choose to work and on whatever device they are using. Virtual desktop solutions incorporate a combination of server-hosted, session-hosted, and client-hosted desktops, all with application virtualization, user data, and settings management. These solutions require software, hardware, and resource time to build and maintain, all of which have associated costs. At the same time, organizations are reducing their spending, which means virtual desktop implementation must be done correctly the first time. Companies experience challenges deploying virtual desktop solutions due to a variety of factors including insufficient knowledge required for deploying the combination of technologies, lack of internal experience and data supporting planning and implementation, and limited industry guidance across the supporting technologies. Beginning a Successful Virtual Desktop Solution Successful virtual desktop projects begin by identifying which technologies should be utilized for each category of user and mapping their required desktop features. The cost difference between implementing 1000 VDI desktops versus Session-based desktops is quite large. However, implementing Session-based desktops that do not support users’ needs, although initially less costly, will potentially reduce user productivity, and present a poor user experience when targeted at the wrong group of users. Current inventory tools are built around asset compliance and do not typically record the data needed to decide which technologies represent the best long-term strategy. In order to make informed planning decisions, IT needs usage and consumption data of targeted desktop resources and features analyzed into consumable reports. Since virtual desktops are required to support businesses today, companies are striving for successful deployments. However, companies are also struggling to understand what defines a successful deployment. Successful virtual desktop solutions take into account users, desktop management, and applications; the primary factors that have a high impact on solution development. Users want a rich computing environment available anywhere they are, through a wide range of devices, without compromise. Virtualization has greatly improved the manageability of desktops but has not eliminated management requirements. Applications enable user productivity, and application virtualization can be utilized to improve flexibility and reduce delivery complexity and costs in a virtual desktop solution. Users A typical user expects any upgrades or new technology to maintain the performance level of their previous desktop incarnation. An extremely manageable virtual desktop may be beneficial to IT, but if the upgrades cause markedly slower application start times, they will not be well received by users. However, most companies do not have data
  3. 3. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 3 detailing their users’ current expectations. Without data for comparison, IT may unknowingly implement a solution resulting in low levels of user satisfaction and productivity. Poor user experiences and a lack of understanding of the before and after states are two of the primary reasons why past implementations of VDI and virtualization have failed. On the other hand, a solution may provide users with the same or better performance than previous desktop solutions but may prove out of budget or out of scope of the current resources for management. Management One of the primary reasons organizations look toward virtual desktops is the perceived reduction of management costs. Although cost reduction is a benefit, it only occurs with proper virtual desktop implementation. Moving the desktops from the endpoints to the datacenter centralizes management efforts with a reduction in desktop management, but at the same time, it increases management needs with the addition of infrastructure. The current technologies for virtual desktops provide benefits for managing the desktop in a server infrastructure, but still require combination with traditional desktop management solutions. Applications Applications are the core drivers of user productivity. Improving the management lifecycle of applications has a positive impact on productivity whether utilizing traditional or virtual desktops. Virtual applications provide many benefits throughout the lifecycle, including packaging, delivery, support, compatibility, and termination. Separating applications from the desktop with application virtualization enables a more flexible and supportable delivery model for both traditional and virtual desktops. Virtual applications enable flexible delivery, as applications are not installed on the desktop (virtual or traditional) which reduces the deployment efforts and overall support costs. Realizing benefits from application virtualization technologies requires packaging the applications into the new format. Currently, companies are invested heavily in their existing packaging processes, which may range from manual installation, scripting, or full MSI deployment. In order to package applications into the new format, the current application catalog must be inventoried and rationalized. Rationalizing the application catalog will reduce the number of applications requiring conversion into virtual formats. Next comes converting the applications from the current format into an application virtualization format. The result of application virtualization for virtual desktops is a resource delivered to, but not installed on, any type of desktop (traditional, session, or VDI) from one common package. Application virtualization enables the packaging team to create a single package across all endpoints from one process while providing a reduction in support costs associated with application conflicts due to the isolation in application virtualization. During the planning process of virtual desktops, application virtualization should be considered as a solution for application management in the transformed desktop. Virtual Desktop Assessment Assessing an organization’s current environment and providing guidance in planning and implementing virtual desktops is critical to choosing the correct technologies that will shape the desktop in the future. Currently, most companies work with individual vendors to try out their specific piece(s) of the virtual desktop stack, which requires resource time to evaluate each technology and then combine the results to meet the organization’s specific needs and processes with limited or no guidance. Flexera Software® created a complete, vendor-agnostic assessment tool called AdminStudio® Virtual Desktop Assessment that enables administrators to capture the data required to make decisions when selecting virtual desktop technologies. Flexera Software has a deep desktop history with their solutions for application readiness, including MSI and application virtualization packaging, self-service software delivery with App Portal, testing and compliance with Workflow Manager, as well as software licensing, entitlement management, and delivery of applications. Flexera Software’s desktop knowledge translates to advantages for organizations from business decision makers to IT administrators understanding the operating system, application usage, and user consumption critical for making decisions prior to capital expenditures and resource allocation. Features of AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment enables organizations to make informed decisions when planning a virtual desktop solution strategy, whether the strategy includes Microsoft® , VMware® , Citrix® , Symantec™, or Quest® , by capturing and analyzing critical data into actionable reports suited for each part of the project. The results are a well-designed infrastructure that will ensure high-levels of user satisfaction while minimizing management efforts and overall costs. Capture Virtual Desktop Readiness Virtual Desktop Assessment captures an accurate and comprehensive picture of virtual desktop readiness by collecting inventory that includes hardware resources (CPU, RAM, storage, disk I/O, graphics, IOPs, and externally attached devices) used by each application and the usage profile of each application, including user count, load time, and total use time. Administrators can tailor Virtual Desktop Assessment by specifying which computers, users, and applications to assess, from the entire company as a whole, or a subset of targeted virtual desktop candidates. They can specify the timeline, from a short time window to track peak usage, to a longer timeframe to capture trending information, and send the data collected to a central location for analysis and reporting that captures important usage information for the organization.
  4. 4. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 4 The data capture is performed by a lightweight agent on the selected desktops targeted by the Profile Collector. The agent runs completely in the background, utilizing minimal resources and unnoticed by users during the monitoring process. The agent sends data to the Virtual Desktop Assessment Manager, which is available as a virtual appliance for most hypervisors, or it can be installed locally. Administrators can tailor the assessment for their environment, specifying not only the “what” — that is, which computers, users and applications to assess — but also the “when.” They can specify a sample that accurately represents the environment or they can monitor all computers, users and applications. Administrators can specify the timeframe, which typically runs from two weeks to 30 days, and can even configure the agent to uninstall after the monitoring period, eliminating the manual effort of removing agents. The results can be exported and reports are available from a high-level view, mid-level analysis model, and low-level granular view. Figure 1: Assessment Dashboard
  5. 5. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 5 Perform analysis After the data is collected, Virtual Desktop Assessment analyzes and reports inventory of computers including attached devices and application usage (count, load time, and total use), as well as required services and drivers for each application. Flexera Software Virtual Desktop Assessment creates a profile for each user/computer. The profile provides easy to use information for each profile’s virtualization suitability by using simple color codes, from green (good candidate), to yellow (fair candidate), to red (poor candidate). The suitability ratings are based on factors ranging from consumption of memory, storage and other resources to performance requirements and infrastructure limitations, and allow for custom weighting for specific needs of the organization or business units. The Virtual Desktop Assessment analysis provides insight into the effort required to migrate specific users based on the complexity of their desktop environment (specific hardware requirements) and maps the identified categories of user/ desktop with the best-fit virtual desktop technologies. Virtual Desktop Assessment analysis also provides data on infrastructure capacity (aggregated CPU time, RAM requirements, storage volume and I/O load) enabling right- sized hardware purchases to reduce company spending for virtual desktops. The Virtual Desktop Assessment analysis enables IT to select which technologies fit (e.g. XenDesktop™ vs XenApp™) and to perform capacity planning, which ensures right-sized spending on the appropriate supporting technologies, both hardware and software. IT can also accurately estimate the resources necessary for areas that require more attention, from pilot to production. Performing a one-time analysis that identifies specific technologies across virtual desktops eliminating running multiple Proof-of-Concepts or testing that requires resource time and dedicated hardware to support. Companies need an understanding of what specific solutions will cost prior to making hardware and software purchases for testing, pilot programs, and production, and before providing training on each technology. Combining Flexera Software’s AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment and AdminStudio Virtualization Pack enables organizations to evaluate needs and automate the conversion of applications to virtual applications. AdminStudio Virtualization Pack provides the path to application readiness by providing packages in all formats (MSI, App-V, ThinApp™, XenApp) from one workflow, with consistent cost-effective results for the targeted Virtual Desktop solution, regardless of vendor or endpoint. Reporting Virtual Desktop Assessment offers both out-of-the-box and custom reporting with high, medium, and low-level reports targeted at specific audiences including business decision makers, technical decision makers, and IT Administrators. Administrators and other users can select the most relevant reports and run them on an ad hoc or scheduled basis. IT can create custom reports from scratch or tailor one of the many built-in reports. The solution provides an overall suitability assessment, ranking computers and users into low, medium, and high complexity groups based on usage patterns and environmental conditions. The ranking is calculated by taking an average of key metrics captured by Virtual Desktop Assessment. The weightings can be adjusted to align the results more closely with your environment.
  6. 6. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 6 The suitability assessment helps IT determine which users or user groups to migrate first — for example, an administrator may choose to migrate the best candidates first to gain experience with virtualization, while minimizing costs and user disruption. High-level Reporting High-level reports provide summary information for business decision makers to gain insight into the scope of a virtualization project and give them a quick view of the technology problems that need to be solved. Summary reports are an excellent starting point for understanding the current desktop environment and laying out the details of a virtualization strategy. Filtering enables IT to tailor reports based on a variety of attributes to gain richer insight into the data. High-level reports help IT discover desktops, applications, and users with high resource requirements. This information assists with capacity planning for virtual desktops by providing an aggregated total of all computers, users, and resources required for a virtualization project. Number of machines: 27 Number of users: 22 Total CPU Allocated: 183.5 GHz Total Memory Allocated: 160.3 GB Total Disk Allocated: 10,513.8 GB Peak Average CPU Used: 30.9 GHz Peak Average Memory Used: 103.1 GB Peak Average Disk Used: 6,015.7 GB Figure 3: Summary Report Figure 2: Virtual Profile Weighting
  7. 7. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 7 The Machine Age report provides information on which users might need new computers or upgrades prior to virtualization. This can impact the number of machines virtualized, as keeping a machine in service for a user may require moving their workload into a virtualized desktop, or facing the consequences of upgrades of the current desktop hardware. Additional reports that have an impact on the virtualization project include: Operating system, System CPU Load (%), Memory Used (MB), Disk Used (GB), Graphics Intensity, User CPU Load (%), Network Latency (ms), and Disk IOPs. The data provided in these reports allows the business to understand their virtualization needs from core components, beginning capacity planning by understanding the work load that will be required to move from a traditional desktop to a virtual desktop solution. Analysis Models (Mid-level Reporting) Mid-level reports provide the next level of detail so that IT managers, architects, and others can gain additional insight into the data collected by Virtual Desktop Assessment. Filtering enables IT personnel to analyze data in a variety of ways, creating a better understanding of virtualization suitability and complexity. The mid-level reporting presents data that identifies specific computers and groups of users that are more and less suitable for virtualization. Based on the settings for the Virtual Profile analysis administrators can use the Virtual Profile Scatter Plot showing groups of computers that are a better or worse fit based on specific criteria defined in the Virtual Profile. Figure 4: Virtual Scatter Plot (CPU and Memory versus IO)
  8. 8. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 8 Next Steps: For more information, visit or contact a Flexera Software representative. Free Trial: An AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment free trial is available at or contact a Flexera Software representative. The mid-level reports take the data past the totals and present information grouped for specific users, computers, and resource requirements, enabling selection of the best technology. This enables administrators to choose between the list of technologies that are a better fit while maintaining the user experience, and management overhead. Taking the conceptual capacity planning from the high-level reports and mapping it to specific technologies takes the next step towards delivering a virtual desktop solution. Detailed (Low-level Reporting) Detailed reports provide granular data for pinpointing data that finalizes capacity planning. This includes identifying specific applications that cause higher resource consumption, current application footprints on targeted devices, and specific requirements for virtual desktop solutions. This data is designed to expose limiting factors of specific devices and user types. Companies can take the application inventory data and rationalize to ensure that they are only supplying applications to the users that use them. With this additional level of detail, administrators can cross-reference the data with usage and provide only the applications that are consumed frequently in a VDI solution, and provide access to infrequent application via Session based solutions. Cross-Platform Support AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment supports many platforms, providing analysis for hypervisors from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft Windows® operating systems for physical and virtual desktops, virtual desktop technologies from VMware, Citrix, Symantec and Quest, as well as application virtualization technologies from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft. Removing the vendor-specific analysis enables IT departments to run a single assessment where resource time is allocated to a single project that provides data to select technologies based on management effort, migration efforts, capacity planning, while ensuring that the user experience is at levels that meet or exceed expectations. Conclusion Virtual Desktop strategy has changed from a discussion to an actionable project. Organizations that are planning a successful Virtual Desktop strategy can utilize AdminStudio Virtual Desktop Assessment to capture and analyze the data required to make key decisions. Virtual Desktop Assessment results empower the IT, finance, and legal departments with reports based on data captured from their desktops and users that provide the guidance to build a successful virtual desktop strategy. Virtual Desktop Assessment results enable project planning prior to purchasing hardware and software for trial or test solutions. Organizations can take the data generated and create cost estimates for comparisons of the software and hardware required for the solution. IT can feel confident that the solution will deliver the expected user-experience during the project by comparing data from the captured sample during the process and ensuring that the infrastructure will support the solution.
  9. 9. Virtual Desktops for the Enterprise 9
  10. 10. Flexera Software LLC 1000 East Woodfield Road, Suite 400 Schaumburg, IL 60173 USA Schaumburg (Global Headquarters): +1 800-809-5659 United Kingdom (Europe, Middle East Headquarters): +44 870-871-1111 +44 870-873-6300 Australia (Asia, Pacific Headquarters): +61 3-9895-2000 For more office locations visit: Copyright © 2012 Flexera Software LLC. All other brand and product names mentioned herein may be the trademarks and registered trademarks of their respective owners. AS-VDA_WP_VirtDesktops_Sept12