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Virtual Desktops: Ready or Not?

  • Summary: As adoption of hosted virtual desktops takes off over the next four years many businesses will need to reconfigure existing storage infrastructure, if they are to deliver suitable performance at an acceptable cost. By Nick Heath for ZDNet.

    Excerpt:

    Adoption of server-hosted virtual desktops is predicted to take off in the next four years, forcing many businesses to overhaul their existing IT infrastructure.

    Use of server-hosted virtual desktops (SHVD) will grow almost fourfold by 2016, making up 16.9 percent of business user's desktops, according to analyst house Gartner.

    Philip Dawson, research VP with Gartner, said businesses' existing virtualised server environments are often not set up to match the demands of SHVD - for instance, from many users simultaneously accessing common files.

    http://www.zdnet.com/why-so-many-businesses-arent-ready-for-virtual-desktops-7000008229/

  • it's the cost.  in order to do that, business need to beef up storage and server plus license cost.  unless they are very big, it not worth the money.

  • The cost to do this right just doesn't compare to the cost of individual workstations, unless you do this on a grand scale.  For me to have any comfort in having virtual desktops, I'd have to set the host up in a clustered environment to avoid the possible single point of failure.  Remember, all it takes is one fan to die to cause a server to overheat and shut down.

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
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  • Do you guys mean from non profit perspective?

    We are about a 12 person office using P4 systems and a server on its last legs from 10 years ago. I haven't done all of my research yet, but with the software available for next to nothing thanks to techsoup, an off lease server for $1000 it will instantly breath new life into our infrastructure effectively replacing 12 desktops. Just to replace the desktops alone is an easy 400-500$. Further down the road these hulks we use called desktops can be replace by 10 watt WYSE devices for about $350 each.

    I can sort of see the single point of failure point, but with our existing 'normal' server this is already an issue. On the plus side not having to watch over malware, viruses, employees visiting sites they shouldn't, and the host of user errors that come with them manipulating their desktop is a nice set of benefits.

    _____________________________

    Mike

    Utica Zoological Society

    Volunteer Tech Support

  • Hi Mike,

    What function does your current server perform?  Does the new server have large hard drives in a Raid array?  The Microsoft Donation program on Tech Soup certainly makes it more attainable, but I'm not sure I can see a cost savings to you on such a small scale.  

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
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  • Hi Gary,

    Like I said still in the research stage, but was using a:

    2x Xeon Quad Core 2.66GHz

    32 GB RAM

    4x 1TB drives in RAID

    as a jumping off point at $1k purchase price.

    The current server is really nothing more than a file and print server housing all the user files. It's also used to deploy the end-point a/v protection.

    Maybe I am not accounting for something so I'd love ot hear your feedback.

    My cost estimates so far are:

    Server $1000

    MS Server 2012 Standard Edition $53

    Windows Server User CAL $2x12= $24

    Upgrade switch $250

    $1327

    We already have 12 Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 Licenses, but I'm not sure if they will qualify for virtual deployment.

    Compare that with having to replace 12 desktops at even $400/each for a total of $4800 is a huge savings and that not even addressing the need to replace the existing 10 year old server.

    _____________________________

    Mike

    Utica Zoological Society

    Volunteer Tech Support

  • I can see the server side looking good, but what about the machines that you are going to use to access the virtual desktops?  You mentioned WYSE thin clients @ $350 each, are those part of the equation, or are you planning on using your existing desktops to get to the virtual environment? 

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
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  • No, off the bat they wouldn't be part of the equation and the current P4s would be kept to access the virtual environment. The WYSE would be added on a rollout basis over a set period of time.

    _____________________________

    Mike

    Utica Zoological Society

    Volunteer Tech Support

  • Oh ok, that makes a lot of sense.  We don't do virtual desktops here, but we do thin client/ remote desktop (formerly Terminal Services) in all our exam rooms.  Our terminal servers are all virtualized using a Hyper-V cluster for the high availability that our org needs.  

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
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  • $100 per WYSE client per year MS VDA License, so fork over $1200 per year to MS to cover those WYSE clients. 12 desktops x 2GB RAM = 24GB of your server RAM used for desktops alone. The list goes on and on. VDI is a great thing but there is WAY WAY more to it than just a server and WYSE clients. 4 server drives in RAID will not cover for 12 desktops unless your using SSD and then at what capacity. What kind of RAID are you using? Look at RAID penalty. Once again it is way more complicated than the discussion given here. You have to do A LOT of research before jumping in this realm.

    I am only familiar with VMWARE/UNIDESK, not sure what all is required in the hyper-v world. It isnt easy and it isnt cheap.