Lee says VDI is costly but can eventually pay for itself. The school used a private grant to upgrade its Cisco/Enterasys network in preparation of deploying VDI and then to fund the virtualization software itself. While he wouldn't say the cost, he says that at the end of eight years the school will spend half what it would have had it not transitioned to VDI with the break-even point coming sometime in the fourth year.
He has several recommendations. Phase in the deployments with the simplest ones first, Lee says, because there is a learning curve.
Be wary of creating too many virtual desktop gold images because they create more work. The more images there are, the more updates have to be applied. He recommends figuring out how to create a common-denominator base image that fits the largest number of end users. To keep down the number of images, he deems it unsuitable to use VDI everywhere.
Scripps Networks -- the company behind the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel -- relies on VDI for its developer community, says Selene Tolbert, project manager for development operations at the company's Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters.
The company uses collaboration extensively to support its agile software development process and its developers around the world. If developers tap into a virtual desktop remotely and it goes bad, they call up a new one if the old one can't be fixed; the user continues working.
Tolbert recommends tracking what tools end users need and when time comes to upgrade gold desktop images, incorporate them. She says it's imperative to check how licensing differs for applications when they are deployed virtually vs. being installed on PCs. The costs can differ significantly, she says. Some open source vendors don't care about the licensing but may have versions of their application that might be tuned specifically for cloud virtual desktop deployment.
When choosing how to deploy VDI, businesses should remain open to using desktop-as-a-service offerings, Tolbert says. The company chose Quest (then Desktone) in 2011 because it supported the Citrix HDX virtual desktop protocol and it was pleased with Quest's service.
It may be more expensive to host VDI in the cloud even with the costs of hardware, cooling, floorspace and staff with their benefits packages. It's worth a few hundred dollars per month extra to avoid all that and have the option to expand the infrastructure rapidly when the need arises, she says. "We didn't want to grow IT to the point where it was taking away from broadcasting," she says.
One lesson Tolbert has learned is that end users, particularly in the development community, prefer to choose the platforms they work on. Some Scripps developers want VDI but steer clear of it because they don't want to use Windows, and as a result she is seeking better VDI support for Linux. About 50 to 80 users opted not to use VDI, so the company still maintains data center resources for them. But the 57 who do use VDI still represent a reduction in the resources needed.