If you close your eyes real tight and listen closely, you might be able to hear the sounds of the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) drum beating in the distance. The VDI chants and music are growing louder, and the message is resonating with more and more people.
According to a recent study by the Enterprise Strategy Group, 60 percent of enterprises have a desktop virtualization strategy, and 45 percent of them will have virtualized 50 percent of their desktops within the next three years.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Citrix is helping to develop a powerful new open source virtual switch that will allow security virtual appliances to gain access to network traffic | And Citrix offers an open security solution across multiple hypervisors to challenge VMware VMsafe ]
So what's holding VDI back? What's keeping administrators from actually achieving the VDI nirvana that virtualization vendors have been promising and preaching?
A few things: Security concerns, performance issues, and user acceptance are all valid concerns. Many enterprises have been dabbling in VDI for a quite some time now, running small proof-of-concept (POC) implementations in order to test things out before jumping into a production virtual desktop environment with both feet. The promised benefits of VDI are extremely alluring. But what most of these organizations find out during their POC is that VDI environments are quite different from physical environments, and when it comes to security, they need specific defenses for each.
The same old, conventional antivirus solutions used within physical desktops to keep the corporate network safe simply do not work in a VDI environment. Conventional security scans can quickly overpower the resources on a single system. Think about it. When an office full of workers first come in to start their morning duties and everyone powers up and signs into their desktop sessions around the same time, the security software on those VDI images will simultaneously reach out across the network for new security updates. And when these same virtual desktops all kick off an antivirus scan at the same time, the system is brought to its knees. This surge in resource consumption is known as "AV storming," and it directly effects the end-user experience of either the server or the desktop.
Last month, during the Citrix Synergy 2010 conference in San Francisco, McAfee and Citrix made a major announcement around a strategic partnership and collaboration effort with a goal of making virtual desktop security simpler and more scalable for large enterprise deployments. McAfee said it was developing a platform and API that would provide a framework to accelerate and address the specific needs of security for virtualized environments; specifically, McAfee would deliver new security solutions for Citrix XenDesktop, XenClient, and XenServer.
But McAfee isn't alone on this quest to solve the security challenges of a VDI environment.