The acronym ‘VDI’ in the IT world is an abbreviation for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. VDI is a tool which can provide your business with the capability to share all your applications – whether they be tour booking systems, CRM, email, diary and/or the popular desktop applications – across many sites and devices, whilst maintaining full synchronisation, reliability and security.
• VDI offers the ability to have a low cost, reliable & centrally managed common IT infrastructure which is shared across a multi-site business with full synchronisation and shared databases.
• Your staff would be able to use any internet compatible hardware to access your system from anywhere – a personal computer, net book, iMac, iPad or, if practical, a smart phone.
So you have a central IT infrastructure of common applications available to all your staff from any location which has an internet connection. Sounds good for starters and will allow you:
1. Centrally managed IT which offers a low cost, common approach company wide
2. Fully synchronised databases
3. Company data available to all staff anywhere
4. Secure and reliable computing with 99.999% availability (assuming you had the foresight to invest in VDI with a quality hosting company such as Veber ;P )
The ability to access your company IT systems from a variety of low cost hardware will become a cost advantage over time – you would be able to purchase lower spec/cost computers to access VDI – and you may also consider the growing trend of allowing your staff to BYOD (bring your own device) to the office.
But, of course, it’s not quite that simple. What’s important for you and your business will depend on your individual circumstances. We’ve gone into a bit more detail below and summed up the wider benefits of VDI and given you food for thought to get that grey matter whirring on whether the business case could stack up for you:
VDI offers the flexibility of being able to remote access the working environment from outside of the office on mobile devices thus delivering gains in the productivity of the employees. You could also employ a BYOD strategy which could decrease hardware costs. Two or more sites? No problem – just the one database server can service all your users.
If you’ve got a user trekking in the Himalayas, VDI might not work. You will need an internet connection. To maximise that employee effectiveness, check that your most likely sites of work can support this.
VDI allows for a high degree of standardisation across your business IT set up which offers fast, secure and smooth operations. Having each user utilise the same image (OS and apps) reduces admin and support costs and means that any company data or security policy can be applied against the entire set of virtual desktops. In this way, all employee activity is ensured to comply with company standards.
The loss of flexibility for employees is the reason many hesitate about a VDI gold standard. But all is not lost! You can allow for some flexibility with standardised desktops, including allowing employees to select tools from a pre-approved applications library, or allowing employees to request new tools from IT. Just watch out for increased storage consumption on the server.
Growing VDI over the longer term will be cost-effective. Your hosting partner will provide the hardware, manage the server, ensure fault tolerance and provide security and backup. You’ll need less OPEX investment in internal IT expertise, you may allow BYOD, buy cheap laptops/desktops with minimal or no storage then boot them from network resulting in no real maintenance.
You’ll need to think about the spec of your VDI and the ‘hidden extras’. Ask about things like centralised SSO authentication, load balancing and application licensing. You’ll also need a trained VDI administrator to manage the system.
It’s all about the control and management. VDI provides you with just one central infrastructure in a data centre to be maintained. The benefit here is that it makes operations faster and more cost-effective. Your hosted infrastructure will be a first-rate system with fault tolerance, redundant power supplies, high-performance storage and high-bandwidth networking. If a PC fails, a user simply has to use another workstation to access their data and apps. If a device gets misplaced or stolen, nothing’s lost – it’s all in the data centre.
Mission control must be better designed than the Titanic. A problem here can affect all users. Get yourself a hosting partner with a proven track record and the icebergs will melt away.
Feel like your office is full of cables and flashing LEDs? They may come in handy…a company who has an IT infrastructure in place already is likely to have the network and devices to support the networking side of VDI. But, you’ll eliminate dependency on in-house storage and network resources by having a hosted VDI where changes in disk space, memory or hardware can all be managed by your hosting partner.
Not so many cables and flashing LEDs? VDI will require a major investment if your business has no existing IT infrastructure, not least on the storage front. Ask about minimising the size of your storage configurations.
If you’re interested in IT distributed across offices, standardisation, reliability, security and speedy deployment then VDI will benefit you whether you are working in an SMB or a larger enterprise.
The remote access benefits are key for those organisations with remote or travelling workforces while a ‘gold standard’ desktop allows organisations with a large workforce to keep their IT requirements in hand.
Organisations with fewer staff and possibly less qualified IT staff will feel the benefit of having just one central infrastructure to manage.
Sceptics will suggest that you weigh cost, complexity and storage before embarking on a VDI set up for your business but that’s a common sense approach which should be employed for any new venture. Like buying a house…you could say “No, don’t do it. You’ll need a deposit; you’ll need a mortgage, a good credit rating. And don’t forget the contract, the solicitor’s bills, and the tax…why would you want to go through all that?” Well, a lot of us do and many more aspire to it. It’s not right for everyone but both buying a house and choosing VDI have benefits which pay off, certainly over the long term.
We like VDI here at Veber but we recognise its pros and cons and the fact that it has to be the right decision for your business. If you still have more questions about the business case for VDI, talk to one of our team members who can give you a bit more detail. We’ve researched VDI and have helped clients decide on whether VDI is the way forward for them. We can help you too.
020 3468 7000