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How Nutanix HCI Technology Completes your VDI Solution

  Mark Gabryjelski     Jun 25, 2020

With the abrupt surge in remote work over the past several months, VDI has become a buzzword again, and understandably so. The year of VDI may finally be upon us! Traditional end user device deployments did not quite cut it as many companies found themselves scrambling to place laptop orders for users that had previously never required one. The actual purchase of laptops is only the beginning, however. Every additional end user device introduced means one more piece of hardware that must be inventoried, imaged, managed and secured. Each device is one more point of vulnerability that can be damaged, lost or stolen. Additional hardware equates to more work for internal IT. Rather than focusing on value generating ideas and solutions, internal IT becomes saddled with managing and tracking devices. VDI and the creation of end user computing (EUC) alleviates the constraints that the habitual practice of buying more hardware produces.

The lessons we have learned point to VDI

The challenges presented to businesses in 2020 clearly show that companies must attain greater agility and flexibility for end user workspaces. Employees need and want to work from anywhere, anytime, from any device. In the end, users don’t need a physical computer. They need a workspace. With VDI, end users are able to accelerate their productivity without the hassle and limitations of physical hardware and location. VDI greatly simplifies application and desktop management while automating many manual processes for IT. All of this allows organizations to better accelerate their response strategies to dynamic environments.

 And then of course there is the ever-present challenge of security that has been an issue for many years. This is a compounded issue for mobile compute devices as a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, potentially putting data into the hands of a thief.1 Between 2005 and 2015, 41 percent of all data breach events were caused by lost devices.2 These statistics bring into question the security and safety of issuing a physical device to every user. Security is greatly enhanced with VDI as all data resides within the secure confines of the data center and access verification is augmented through the use of multifactor authentication and other advanced authentication tools.

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VDI by itself is half the picture

VDI is a fairly broad acronym. VDI requires infrastructure in order to provide the best end user computing experience. It is within these architectures that the details come to fruition. The three architectural on-premises models today are as follows:

  • Build your own (BYO)
  • Converged infrastructure
  • Hyperconverged infrastructure

Those that choose to go with a BYO infrastructure strategy get to independently choose the products that they feel will fit their needs the best. BYO utilizes your existing networking infrastructure and allows you to scale compute and storage resources independently. While the inherent flexibility of BYO can be enticing, it also requires substantial planning and research upfront. Each product component must be evaluated separately, introducing the risk of uncertainty regarding exactly how these different elements will work in conjunction in regards to performance and reliability.

A converged VDI architecture helps eliminate the risk of relational uncertainty through referenced architecture. A CI offering includes the full 3-tiered network service infrastructure in one solution. CI packaging contains products from single or multiple vendors that are certified to work cohesively together. A CI vendor should offer single call support for all aspects of the CI solution which reduces support complexity.

And then there is HCI which converges all 3 tiers into a single appliance. Unlike its counterpart, HCI is software based, making it more agile than CI, which is hardware oriented. As a result, storage, compute and networking are all managed with a single pane of glass. HCI also utilizes commodity hardware which also simplifies the task of maintaining and operating all its components. Scalability is a simple streamlined process which involves little more than snapping in another appliance like Legos.

Five VDI considerations

 VDI is much different than a virtual server farm. The perpetual opening and closing of applications cause significant variances in workloads and IOPS. Maintenance operations, such as patching and environment refreshes, can result in significant performance oscillations as well. The success of your VDI implementation is often determined by scalability and resource provisioning. Some of the prominent considerations include:

  1. Entry Point – You have to start somewhere and where you start will determine your initial costs. Traditional VDI environments are often characterized by over-provisioning which is typical at the outset.
  1. Scalability – What is your end goal? Not only must your solution be economically viable for small scale implementation at the beginning, it must be able to scale up to its maximum potential. Think of the concept of building blocks as you scale up your solution. A block equates to an increment of users such as 50, 100, 500 or 1,000. Using this block approach makes it easier to accurately predict future cost, performance, and capacity scaling.
  1. Performance – The continual dynamic nature of scaling your VDI solution up and down creates significant performance challenges in order to ensure that your users always
  1. Capacity – It is ideal to be able to scale capacity across your 3-tiers collectively, but that can be highly challenging for BYO or even some CI solutions.
  1. Monitoring – It is important to have full visibility into your virtualization environment in order to manage and gauge CPU and memory performance of your VMs, and to identify whether problems are at a global or granular level.

 Turn to the established leader of HCI for VDI

 Going from proof of concept to full scale production can take months or in some cases, years, but Nutanix can significantly shorten this initial window. The simplified integration of the 3-tiers of network infrastructure into a single appliance makes deployment straightforward. The Nutanix architecture allows you to start small and scale as needed with predictable incremental costs and performance benchmarks. Its signature “one-click upgrades” greatly simplifies the upgrade process which saves time and eliminates disruption. The Nutanix HCI architecture features a self-healing platform that ensures high availability. Automated recovery from component and node failures translates into reliable operation with minimal intervention and effort. It also includes an integrated backup and DR component that includes the ability to failover to secondary sites or the cloud if necessary. Add to that, the best practices and reference architectures Nutanix provides for the different VDI/EUC offerings available today!

The Hype is Real! Explore the Benefits of Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Deliver a digital workspace experience with flexible HCI

In the end, the goal is to keep your employees working regardless of location. Organizations need to think about scaling nodes rather than managing disparate hardware devices characterized by rampant costs and management complexities. Just as companies have realized the value of software defining the data center, they are now learning the value of delivering a workspace experience through the flexibility of an HCI infrastructure. Nutanix has set the bar for HCI solutions and will continue to do so, ensuring that whatever the next crisis or great challenge will consist of, your organization will be ready for it.

NEXT STEPS: Take a deeper dive into the differences between converged and hyperconverged infrastructure, plus learn some important questions to ask before investing in HCI in our white paper below.


Mark Gabryjelski

Written by Mark Gabryjelski

Mark Gabryjelski, VCDX #23, leads up the Virtualization Practice here at WEI where he identifies, validates, and introduces new technologies that our customers can use to simplify and control their data center operations. Mark works with clients across all industries in the design, implementation and support of solutions that enable our customers’ consumption of virtualization technologies. Mark is an author and also conducts several of the customer training sessions in the WEI Knowledge Transfer Center (KTC).

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