Four Virtual Desktop Blind Spots that can Destroy the End User Experience
Virtual desktops (VDI) are once again a hot topic. The challenges that sorely limited the use cases for VDI a few years ago have been overcome for the most part with 2012-2013 technology improving the end user experience with virtual desktops tremendously.
As a provider of hosted virtual desktops and someone who helps customers build their own virtual desktop environments, I can tell you that there are still a few holes out there that a VDI deployment can fall into that can derail an otherwise successful virtual desktop project.
More typically than not, when we are in discussions with our customers about proposed virtual desktop projects, the discussion fairly quickly ends up centered around the datacenter, the infrastructure and the required architecture.
Certainly this is conversation that has to be had and is critical to any virtual desktop projects success, but a conversation that puts more focus on what needs to happen in the datacenter completely misses the number one reason virtual desktop project fail. The end user and more specifically, the end user experience.
For a virtual desktop project to be successful and deliver on the promised ROI and time savings, end users have to adopt and use the virtual desktops. In fact, I would argue that it is optimal that the new virtual desktops being rolled out need to blow the doors off of the performance of the traditional PC currently sitting on, or under, the end users’ desk.
Getting a virtual desktop project done wrong or even not quite right is a step backwards in productivity for your organization.
When we are delivering hosted virtual desktops to customers I want there to be a clear difference between what they have been using and their new virtual desktops. If their logon times are 45 seconds to a minute on a physical PC, the hosted desktop better deliver a 15 second logon. We want users seeing the performance and asking for virtual desktops.
The quality of the End User Experience is going to dictate the ultimate success and adoption rate of your virtual desktop project. If the virtual desktops perform worse than the physical PCs they were using before then any cost/time savings is lost when compared to the loss of end user productivity and the overall quality of their work experience. In short, doing it wrong or even not quite right is a step backwards for your organization.
Significant virtual desktop advantages in flexibility, security, and service delivery mean nothing if performance is slower than dirt.
There are four potential blind spots that can negatively impact the success of your virtual desktop project once it is up and running that can compound the challenge of trying to deliver a great virtual desktop end user experience.
- Application Execution Time: How long does it take from when a user clicks on an application icon to application launch? There are environments our there with application launch times in under one second. While your environment does not have to achieve these speeds, anything perceived as slower than the current time it takes a traditional desktop application to launch will get your end users talking to each other about the negative performance.
- Host Resource Availability: Are there enough resources on the host server to deliver a consistent, optimal virtual desktop experience to the end users every time. Inconsistent or poor performance is most commonly due to a lack of IOPs, or poor pre-launch scheduling of desktop boots. 30 IOPs is a typical number used when estimated storage resources needed at boot. Your experience may vary.
- Infrastructure Latency: When virtual desktops are separated from backend infrastructure like file shares, databases, etc. performance latency (the time the desktop spends waiting on server side resources in this case) can negatively impact the end user experience with their virtual desktop.
- Client-side Latency: How long does it take to deliver the pixels/screen image to the device/computer the end user is sitting in front of? What is the latency of RDP, ICA/HDX display protocol?
These four areas need to be monitored and measured on a regular basis to make sure the virtual desktop infrastructure is delivering a consistently positive end user experience to users. If you already have a virtual desktop infrastructure in place that is performing inconsistently, one of these areas may be at the root of your problem.