The technology foundation for a virtualized work environment

The on-going COVID-19 epidemic has brought the spotlight back on teleworking as organizations put in place business continuity plans that include dividing employees into office-based and work-from-home. Some organizations are obviously more setup for teleworking employees having put in place the technology infrastructure to do so.

One of the technologies that facilitate teleworking is desktop virtualization which as its name implies virtualizes computing resources such that critical data remains on centralized data centers with employees accessing this data and other applications on a variety of devices either in the office or in remote locations.

The benefits of putting in place a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) include business continuity, rapid data recovery and enhanced security and data protection but these benefits are not guaranteed. 

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Some organizations find that their first attempt at virtualization causes as many problems

as it solves, particularly when it comes to disappointing end-user performance, unexpected management complexity, and high costs. Or, VDI may function well at the start, but fails to scale larger over time.

In many instances where the results from a VDI implementation are disappointing, there is a clearly identifiable cause – an inadequate storage system. Typically, this involves legacy spinning-disk systems; but sometimes hybrid systems that combine hard disk and solid-state technologies are the culprit.

Undoubtedly, many of the related technologies such as hypervisors, networking, load balancers,  and security have seen improvements but probably the most important element that has taken VDI to the next stage is the advent of reliable, flash-based storage. With an all-flash storage set up in place, a consistent VDI experience that is both quick and seamless for the end-users, yet simple for VDI admins to deploy and manage, can now be delivered.

Over the years, VDI hypervisors made significant improvements to their platforms including a richer user experience with graphics acceleration, new levels of security, seamless application integration, support for mobile devices, and much more.

On the other side, the storage sector has kept up as well. Sector leaders like Pure have continued to innovate, with modern, built-for flash, end-to-end NVMe platform along with optional NVMe over fabrics (NVMe-oF), and plug and play next-gen media, Storage Class Memory (SCM). NVMe is instrumental for increasing capacity density while keeping performance at ultra-low-latency.

The benefits of going all-flash extend far beyond virtualisation, and can provide significant advantages in day-to-day operations, by overcoming infrastructure limitations and allowing businesses to do more with less. Instead of changing the way storage is consumed and maintained, NVMe-oF allows an organization to leverage the benefits of consuming storage from remote devices, like an array, to offer employees the benefits of data mobility, protection and reliability regardless of their work location.

So if you work in an organization that has VDI and you experience performance issues, ask your IT department why aren’t they using flash-based storage.