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Cloud Infrastructure for end-user computing: Managing performance, capacity, and cost in the pandemic times

Robert Huie
Partner Architect

Still hosting your remote work infrastructure on-premises? With the pandemic ongoing and no change in remote working situation for the foreseeable future, when was the last time you reviewed your infrastructure and plans that support the work from home employees? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How well is your remote work infrastructure performing?

  • Do you have enough capacity in your remote work infrastructure?

  • Is it time to upgrade and modernize your remote work infrastructure?

  • Have you reviewed your device strategy?

Whether you’re running your end-user compute in public Oracle Cloud regions or Oracle Government Cloud regions, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) addresses your performance needs and provides flexibility and modernization for the infrastructure supporting your remote workforce.

The problem

End-user computing technologies, such as virtual desktops, rely on fast disk operations, fast file storage access, low-latency network connections, and low-latency connections between the virtual desktops and applications. Virtual desktop infrastructure is expensive and often demands investments upfront. No one wants to run virtual desktops on old or piecemeal hardware. It’s guaranteed to fail. The return on investment isn’t realized for years because continued investments are needed in both hardware and network upgrades. By the time you’re fully operational, the hardware is out of date, and it’s time to refresh the hardware again, or you’re running out of capacity.

As you store and save more data, your file storage systems grow. As you continue to add more infrastructure to your data center to support remote work technologies, the data center footprint grows, adding more costs for power, space, and cooling. The more infrastructure you add to your on-premises data centers, the more it costs for hardware maintenance, support, and personnel to support the operations and management of these added infrastructures.

In the past, we often blamed home internet connections for being slow and having high latency. Today’s internet connections are high-bandwidth, reliable, and have excellent latency. Now, the finger-pointing shifts back to the on-premises infrastructure. I can stream a movie without any issues, but why is my remote desktop so slow? The answer starts with the network and then shifts to bottlenecks with the on-premises hardware.

You’ve moved the applications to the cloud, but your virtual desktops remain on-premises. Is accessing these applications with multiple network hops optimal? No.

Removing on-premises obstacles for end-user compute with Oracle Government Cloud

Can Oracle Government Cloud remove these obstacles and bottlenecks?

  • Disk operations and performance: From a performance standpoint, we offer NVMe local storage and low latency block volumes. This offering gives you confidence in running the virtual desktops on Oracle Government Cloud without having to worry about disk latency for those heavy disk operations for virtual desktops.

  • Computing power: From the CPU side, Oracle Government Cloud offers an OCPU, which is equivalent to one physical core with two threads. If you consider that the average laptop or desktop has 4–8 threads, a virtual instance running on Oracle Government Cloud with the same specifications is more than enough to run any desktop workload. If you require GPUs, we offer support for any highly graphical use cases with the Nvidia A100 (available soon), V100, or P100.

  • File capacity: Oracle File Storage in Oracle Government Cloud provides up to 8 exabytes of file storage for your user profiles, home drives, and shared drives. You don’t need to worry about capacity or adding more storage bricks to your infrastructure. Oracle File Storage automatically scales.

  • Network performance: Oracle Government Cloud offers 10 TB of outbound data transfer at no cost. We host many high-profile applications that require high bandwidth and low latency, such as 8x8’s video conference application. This real-world example supports that Oracle Cloud’s network is built for any application, including virtual desktops.

What’s your remote work strategy?

Oracle Government Cloud has the flexibility to run the three most prominent virtual desktop infrastructure products in the market: VMware Horizon, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS). You can deploy VMware Horizon on Oracle Government Cloud’s FedRAMP High VMware Cloud Service. You can deploy Citrix Virtual Apps (XenApp) on Oracle Government Cloud IaaS and Citrix Virtual Desktops (XenDesktop) on Oracle’s bare metal solution with Hyper-V as the hypervisor. If you prefer VMware as the hypervisor, you can deploy XenDesktop on Oracle Cloud VMware service. You can deploy Microsoft RDS on Oracle Government Cloud IaaS.

Port your images and files over

You want to port your profiles, home drives, and shared drives to Oracle File Storage. You don’t want the virtual desktops in Oracle Government Cloud and require your users to reach back to on-premises to access their files to avoid a poor user experience. While you’re standing up your Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, start syncing your files. Although it might take a while, ingress network traffic incurs no charges.

You might be thinking about using a file syncing service for your files. However, file syncing services with nonpersistent desktops aren’t compatible. If you’re using persistent desktops, you can explore this option. For nonpersistent desktops, I recommend using the traditional file storing methods or going to a web-based file management system.

Optimize your applications

If your applications are Oracle-based, your virtual desktop infrastructure benefits more. Your Oracle applications are next to your virtual desktops, removing any extra network hops back to on-premises for your application access.

Review your skill sets

As you move more workloads to the cloud, you can consolidate and update skill sets. With a cloud operating model, automation makes existing tasks easier. You no longer need someone to click setup and troubleshoot hardware. Oracle Government Cloud relieves you of these day-to-day tasks. With automated scaling in File Storage, deployment of virtual machines, bare metal servers, and even our VMWare Cloud service is fully automated. The focus of the skill sets can shift to less specialization on specific technologies and focusing more on cloud operating models.

Take it to the edge

If you need a remote desktop solution, you can layer Citrix XenApp or Microsoft RDS onto Oracle’s Roving Edge Infrastructure. As you deploy your edge solution, you need a way to access these applications. Deploying a virtual desktop solution gives you a desktop-like experience at the edge.

Device strategy

If you’re looking at a permanent work-from-home strategy, do you still want to maintain and account for high-end MacBook and PC laptops in the field? You probably have a two- or three-year refresh cycle for your laptops. Do you want to continue that refresh cycle? How do you handle supply chain management with your devices with a disbursed workforce?

Here, a virtual desktop infrastructure in the cloud helps. If you move your devices to thin clients, you can extend your refresh cycle to 5–10 years. Those devices are cost-effective and secure. You have fewer worries about data loss because no data is saved to those devices. Sometimes, you still need traditional clients, but most of the workforce is running Office applications and maybe a few web-based Oracle applications. Virtual Desktop technologies properly configured are enough for these use cases.

Ready to move your end-user computing to Oracle Government Cloud?

If you already have a virtual desktop infrastructure on-premises, you’re halfway there. Port your images and files over, and you’re off and running! If you’re thinking about a virtual desktop infrastructure strategy, we’ve laid out a strategy for you. The flavor of virtual desktop might be the most difficult choice. Virtual desktop technology has matured, and you can’t go wrong with any of the options. If you’re looking to expand your virtual desktop infrastructure, expand with Oracle Government Cloud.

It all depends on your use cases, and Oracle Government Cloud supports all options. The only way to know if Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is right for you is to try it. You can select either the Oracle Cloud Free Tier or a 30-day free trial in our commercial regions, which includes US$300 in credits to get you started with a range of services, including compute, storage, and networking. The Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions dedicated for the Government consist of FedRAMP High Federal and Civilian authorized regions and IL5 Department of Defense (DoD) authorized regions. If you prefer the Oracle Government Cloud, consult with your Oracle sales representative for proof of concept in the appropriate region.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Nishtha Sharma Sunday, March 14, 2021
    I would love to say that this piece not only enlighten people with the fact that why they need to move to look for solutions for eliminating the need for constant review of on-premise infrastructure but also, helps to know how Oracle can enable a perfect virtual desktop environment for the end-users.
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