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Client Virtualization As A Strategy To Support BYOD

From the experts | Posted on July 24, 2012 by Emily A. Davidson

One approach to support multiple devices in a manageable and secure fashion is to leverage client virtualization. Our Softchoice Advisor Team asked Jon White, Solutions Architect for Client Virtualization here at Softchoice for his insights on helping customers understand the considerations involved.

Softchoice Advisor:  What are the steps for building out a client virtualization strategy to support BYOD?

Jon:  Client Virtualization can be broken down into 3 layers. First is Client OS Virtualization. Next is application virtualization, and then finally profile virtualization. All three of these layers represent the movement from the desktop to the data center. Ultimately, this movement allows our customers to access these resources from any device any time

SA: What’s the first step in assessing the impact to my data center?

Jon: It’s important to understand your user’s workloads to correctly size your environment. Divide your users up into 1 of 3 classifications. 1. Power Users: someone that uses large specialized applications. 2. Knowledge Workers: someone that uses productivity apps, office, ERP and CRM. 3. Task Workers: employees that interact with 2-3 applications as a part of their job.

SA: Using this information, how can I correctly size my servers?

Jon: CPU and memory considerations directly correlate to your user’s workloads. Consider the vCPU to Core Ratio: Power Users = 2:1 vCPU to Core Ratio Knowledge Workers = 6:1 ratio Task Worker would be close to 9:1 ratio

As an example, if we were to configure a server with 12 cores, we’d need 1 core for the hypervisor which leaves us with 11 cores. For knowledge work we should expect to be able to support 66 Virtual Windows 7 machines.

From the memory perspective, understand what applications will be installed in your base gold image vs. hosted in the data center. This allows you to only apply the required amount of memory to support the virtualized user groups.

SA: How is storage impacted by client virtualization? 

Jon: Storage is impacted at two levels. One being capacity and the other is inputs outputs per second (IOPs). The amount of capacity needed to support virtual users has several components. It starts with the number of “gold images” needed to support the different users groups. Each user group may have its own gold image. Next, each virtual machine needs its own virtual disk and they in themselves consume capacity. Finally, account for user data. Will you be storing user data within the VM or leverage folder redirection? To size IOPs, you need to consider that virtual desktops consume IOPs at four different times. First is Boot IOPs, this is read intensive. Next is login IOPs, then you have steady state IOPs and finally you have logoff IOPs.

SA: Let’s move on to the network. How does client virtualization impact the network?

Jon: Your wireless infrastructure will be impacted because more consumer devices will be entering your environments. Also consider the data center network. Will you be leveraging existing 1GB network or will you consider moving to a 10GB? Definitely consider 10GB if you plan to leverage iSCI or NFS storage systems.

SA:  How can I enable remote access to my  network?

Jon: Evaluate if your current VPN solution supports consumer type devices. Also consider implementing a clientless SSL solution supported by the virtualization vendor that works directly with the virtual client on the endpoint. This would be desired because the user would not have to connect to one VPN then go back to the BYOD device and launch the virtualization client.

SA: Any last comments?

Jon: Increasingly IT silos are breaking down. BYOD and client virtualization are perfect examples of this – the key to a successful implementation is starting with the big picture.

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