Moving from a physical desktop environment to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) brings with it a number of advantages and a few challenges. Advantages include reduced costs and improvements in performance, reliability, data protection, and administration. However, all is not perfect in a virtual desktop infrastructure. One area that demands your attention is virtual storage. Virtual desktops access and store data in a shared storage pool which is physically located in a remote storage array rather than on a local disk. Meanwhile, the virtual storage acts as if it were a local disk.
With multiple virtual machines dipping into the same pool, virtualization requires the delivery of data without latency. At the same time, VDI is prone to boot and login storms which can disrupt performance. Virtualized environments need reliability, capacity, and performance – a tall order for storage systems.
In addition to requiring a capable virtual storage system, virtual desktop infrastructure systems make the creation of new virtual machines a simple matter which brings its own set of compounding problems. Since each new virtual machine introduces additional virtual storage requirements, uncontrolled "sprawl" can occur.
In order to better manage the virtual desktop infrastructure and its storage needs, it is imperative that you start with a clear plan. Below are a few tips to get started:
· Create virtualization policies – Address issues such as who may create new virtual servers and machines. You should also have a lifecycle policy in place so that when virtual hardware is no longer needed, it is adequately dismantled. You should also have policies that clearly address virtual storage and virtual machine creation.
· Use a "master" stack – One way to ensure consistency is to develop a standardized master virtual machine containing all of the applications, antivirus and security tools, and utilities typically required within your organization. Use this master stack to quickly create standardized virtual clones which can then be modified to better meet the individual needs of the user.
· Use storage management tools – Many vendors offer storage allocation, management, and monitoring tools. These tools allow you to manage virtual storage more effectively.
· Use de-duplication – Many organizations inadvertently store multiple copies of data and backup sets, taking up a huge amount of storage capacity without realizing it. De-duplication is a process that eliminates duplicate copies of redundant data. Many storage systems include de-duplication technologies that automatically identify, analyze, and de-duplicate chunks of data.
· Move to a hybrid storage system – Hybrid storage systems bring the best of traditional storage and solid state storage systems together, resulting in high capacity virtual storage that delivers the performance VDI requires.
· Remove barriers and manage loads – Use load-balancing tools to avoid overloading your virtual servers and be extra vigilant about finding and removing bottlenecks.
Moving to a virtual desktop infrastructure solves many business challenges while potentially introducing new ones. Setting policies, using a master stack, actively managing virtual storage, de-duplicating data, using a hybrid storage system, and removing bottlenecks, you can expect a more efficient VDI.
Stephanie is the author of this article about managing virtual storage for VDI environments. She enjoys providing her readers with knowledge on the advantages of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environments and how a company could benefit from implementing it.