Understanding the Virtual Desktop Lifecycle - Part 1

Why is desktop virtualization such a big topic in the industry today? Because it has a lot of potential. Potential in terms of better security, more mobility, better hardware utilization and improved manageability. Specifically the last item is of course interesting for the administrator. And, improved manageability in itself has a lot of different aspects. Starting today I will start a serious of small articles that will focus on the improvements and simplifications that can be achieved through desktop virtualization.  So I will concentrate on finding some answers to questions like: How do I deploy a virtual desktop on a VDI platform? Where is it different compared to a traditional PC deployment? Does it need to be different?

So let's start with the last question first. Is a deployment of a virtual desktop necessarily different than a real desktop? - Note with desktop a Windows XP or Windows Vista desktop is meant. The fundamental answer is 'No. Absolutely not.' Only the location is different. This is now the data center instead of the PC in the office. But the rest can remain the same in terms of how you create the desktop, how you upgrade and secure your desktop, how it is connected into your infrastructure. An essence you create a virtual PC that you handout to a user.  And each user can 'own' his desktop. A scenario that is probably most common for todays Windows XP deployments. This deployment is also often referred to as a static deployment.

The static deployment of virtual desktops already provides a lot of advantages compared to a traditional deployment as the user can connect from different locations to his 'static' virtual desktop through a remote connection like RDP.  And of course the user's data resides in the data center. Besides, the complexity with different types of PCs goes away, specifically dealing with the differences in hardware and the required drivers, as there is basically only one type of virtual HW presented to the Windows guest OS.

Deploying virtual desktops statically is a good start into the world of VDI and does not require to change a whole lot in your Windows infrastructure. But there is more potential for automation of desktop deployments in VDI. Wouldn't it be great if a desktop just gets created instantaneously when a user first logs in? Wouldn't it be great if a desktop automatically expires and is deleted after a defined period time? This would help so much better to adjust to changing workload and improve the hardware utilization. It also might change your whole patch model. So is there still a requirement to update a running instance of Windows XP and the embedded applications? Not necessarily. It could also be an option to delete existing instances and create new ones based on an updated golden image, also called template in the world of virtualization. And this is the core idea of an automated desktop lifecyle also referred to as dynamic desktop deployment.

In upcoming blog entries I will discuss the concept of an automated desktop lifecycle, I'll dive down to techniques and parameters to control the process based on the  Sun Virtual Desktop Connector 1.0 and finally will provide a couple of use cases, that might help you to identify when dynamic deployment is actually useful in your remote desktop world.

So stay tuned!

Comments:

Hi Dirk,

Thanks for starting this thread. I am eagerly awaiting the tuning parameters and tips !

Questions:
1) Can a mac leopard OS image be deployed in VDI ?
2) any sizing guidelines that you can post ?

regards,

Peter

Posted by Peter P. on February 11, 2008 at 04:19 PM CET #

Hi Peter,

Two tough questions:

\* Leopard would also be my first desktop OS of choice. But today there are no real ways to do the remote visualization, except VNC. But this is not good enough from my perspective. And in addition you would want to have all the bells and wistles of Leopard and this contradicts the idea of an efficient remote visualization, at least today.

\* We work in general on better and detailed sizing information. But I don't have the information at hand, when these will be available.

-Dirk

Posted by Dirk on February 12, 2008 at 01:05 AM CET #

Hi Dirk

Similarly I am eagerly awaiting the following entries to this thread, so thanks for starting it!

I will be really intrested in the dynamic creation, assignment and destruction of the VMs as I am currently struggling to implement this myself.

Regards
Andy

Posted by Andy on February 22, 2008 at 02:44 AM CET #

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