Planning for Desktop Virtualization

Introduction

While Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology offers significant reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) for organizations that successfully deploy it, the adoption of VDI is a complex undertaking. Under VDI, user desktops are centrally hosted from centralized servers that operate hypervisor software. Desktops are delivered to end users on terminals or repurposed PCs using desktop delivery protocols like RDP and ICA. VDI leverages shared resources to increase hardware utilization efficiencies while greatly reducing administrative burdens and maintenance costs.

Implementation of VDI impacts many aspects of the hardware, software and personnel in both the data center and the end user environment. Considerations include hardware resources, application delivery design, software and licensing, networking and firewalls, storage, configuration and diagnostics and forensics. It is difficult for many users to "get started" in VDI, because the complexity of the undertaking seems daunting at the start of the project. SysTrack® VMP applies an automation model to dramatically reduce the complexity and risk involved in VDI, and helps get projects started in the right direction.

Innovation

SysTrack VMP is the first suite of tools that addresses the full spectrum of planning needs involved in adoption of desktop virtualization. The process of virtualizing desktops is a complex undertaking that involves many disciplines. The market uptake of desktop virtualization is limited by the slow planning cycles typical of manual processes, slow adoption rate due to unquantified risk and overall "mystery" in achieving successful VDI projects.

SysTrack VMP provides an integrated tool suite that provides VDI assessment, VDI capacity planning, virtualization modeling and predictive analysis, migration planning, storage throughput and space planning, power planning, firewall and latency analysis, user and application behavior analysis, pooled desktop / image planning and application virtualization compatibility analysis.

Most of the individual components in SysTrack VMP are unique in today's marketplace. In cases where other products are available, competitive tools offer point solutions that lack breadth and interdisciplinary integration. SysTrack changes the game in VDI by dramatically improving the planning and adoption process through automation and high quality reports.

Functionality

Real-world desktop virtualization projects require multi-disciplinary analysis of a wide range of criteria to create comprehensive plans. SysTrack VMP provides an integrated tool suite that provides:

  • Users and Applications Analysis — SysTrack VMP automates assessment of user and application workloads and identifies both ideal and problematic candidates for your virtualization project.
  • Existing Load Characterization — SysTrack VMP utilizes sophisticated statistical analysis to identify the time-correlated loading expected in your virtual environment.
  • "What-if" Impact Projections for Experimentation — SysTrack VMP plots virtualized server models and accounts for data volatility. Users can designate confidence levels based upon projected requirements.
  • Automatic Modeling Selection — SysTrack VMP automatically selects systems to model based upon rules. Models can be used across the enterprise.
  • Target Hypervisor Hardware Selection — The SysTrack VMP user selects target hardware for virtualization. SysTrack VMP analyzes data and determines the appropriate host servers and the configuration required.
  • Complete Optimized Physical to Virtual Mapping — SysTrack VMP completes the model cycle by assigning systems based upon multiple factors: Data volatility, load leveling, aggregation of like OS, and common application usage to optimize memory savings through saved memory from host and others.
  • Virtual Models for VM Assignments — SysTrack VMP prescribes mappings for existing desktops and servers to hypervisors for optimal savings and results.
  • Automated Documentation — SysTrack VMP creates a proposed migration plan that includes a customized Executive Summary and technical analysis documentation.

Performance

SysTrack performance may be viewed in two different lights: performance of the tool itself and performance of desktop virtualization environments designed using the tool.

The SysTrack tool itself is designed for high scalability and minimal performance impact to instrumented environments. SysTrack is based on a patented distributed database architecture that minimizes network traffic, transparently accommodates user mobility and scales beyond 100,000 users. The product is architected to handle complex organizations with numerous sites and organizational entities through a multi-level forest design. Built-in authentication, encryption and compression technologies meet security demands while providing flexibility for complex network implementations.

Desktop virtualization installations designed with SysTrack VMP also excel in performance. Using a probability-based mathematical model, SysTrack allocates workloads to optimize user experience while minimizing hardware requirements. SysTrack automatically finds cooperative loads, where resource balance can be leveled based on a demand probability model. SysTrack takes advantage of hypervisor and hardware features by constructing models that arrange workloads in ways that augment underlying benefits. Overall datacenter efficiencies that are achieved are increased, since probability models allow confidence to run equipment at higher utilization levels without degradation in user response.

Ease of Integration

SysTrack is easily deployed and integrated into existing environments. It may be deployed using built-in technologies or aided through any third-party software deployment mechanism (such as Microsoft® SCCM, Altiris®, HP® Radia, IBM® Tivoli®, CA® etc), or alternatively through login scripts and other mechanisms. It may be deployed in a running environment without reboots and while users are actively using targeted systems.

The product does not require the use of device drivers or kernel components, which makes attainment of change control approvals in large organizations easier. Products with kernel mode components receive much greater scrutiny and require much longer test/approval cycles due to their potential to blue screen a system in the event of a bug. The product does not change the behavior of modeled systems, making no changes to current applications, stored application information or application data streams on the network.

The product works with a wide variety of targeted clients, supporting legacy equipment as old as Windows® NT 4.0 and the latest designs based on Windows 7. It works in large active directory environments with full integration for authentication and encryption, but without requiring schema changes. It also works in small scale environments, including workgroup and standalone setups as might be found in SMB or educational settings.

SysTrack is compatible with all known hardware and has no application compatibility restrictions. It works on internal as well as cloud infrastructures.

Ease of Use and Manageability

SysTrack is easy to deploy. Typical installations may be accomplished in less than an hour, and database setup and configuration for the product is fully automatic for both Oracle and SQL Server. Large scale deploy is fast and efficient, through either internal mechanisms or through integration with third-party software deployment tools. The product is typically deployed remotely without a site visit. Reboots of targeted systems are not required, and deployment may be performed while users actively operate on the system without disruption. Uninstall is similarly unobtrusive. The product scales beyond 100,000 users.

The product may be licensed for either perpetual use or short-term engagement use. The former is typically used in environments that are committed to ongoing optimization, and accommodates changing behaviors and workloads to retain efficiencies. The shortterm engagement is suited to consultants that operate under specific projects or where a long term commitment to virtualization has not yet been made by management. Upgrades from short-term to perpetual licensing are available.

SysTrack's reporting model is also automated. Typical assessment projects require a broad range of documentation and planning paperwork, and this work is fully automated. SysTrack directly delivers a set of output documentation in Word 2007 format that is tailored to the specific project and data and ready to deliver to IT management.

Value

SysTrack delivers tangible ROI through:

  • Reduced energy costs through heuristic physical and virtual power management that maximizes low power states
  • Minimized hardware demands through right-sizing, resource balancing and optimized allocation
  • Minimized application license cost through image planning reduces software waste and maintenance costs
  • Enormous reduction of administrative labor in the planning process
  • Enhanced security through built-in auditing and assessment
  • Improved visibility affording management the information needed to design optimized infrastructures
  • Lower downtime and better user experience increasing end user productivity
  • Automated reporting via web and dashboards minimizing administrative burdens
  • Built-in root cause analysis and problem identification reducing tech support time
  • Problem resolution through diagnostics and forensics features reducing administrative costs

SysTrack helps IT personnel sell virtualization projects to C-level management by articulating a clear strategy and plan that is comprehensive and multi-disciplinary. Projects that are well planned are perceived as lower risk. Lower risk projects are more easily funded and result in significantly faster adoption rates.

Filling a Market Gap

Today's desktop virtualization market is in the experimental phase. There are few large scale implementations, but many POCs and investigations underway. The lack of adequate planning tools greatly limits the adoption rate for the technology. The complexity of the implementation and the need for change in many aspects of desktop delivery compound these limitations.

SysTrack solves this problem by delivering an immediately available solution that addresses the full spectrum of planning issues. A single toolset performs functions beginning with assessment, proceeding through planning and modeling, and finishing with the actual implementation details necessary to make a real world realization of the project practical.

The integrated nature of the toolset aids administrators by requiring them to learn only a single interface for the full technology range. Reports produced by the tool for multiple disciplines (such as network engineers, power and cooling personnel, hardware configuration and assembly, application rollout, desktop image planning and application delivery) are internally consistent since they are produced in a common format by a single tool. This consistency aids interdepartmental communication and smooths the project implementation process.