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Easing the journey to complete client virtualization



Jason Shiplett.pngBy Guest Blogger, Jason Shiplett, Principal Architect – Client Virtualization

As virtualization technology has advanced over the years, more businesses have ditched traditional client computing options in favor of virtualized solutions that are accessible on any device, and hosted in a central data center. That being said, the process for migrating from physical desktops to a virtualized client environment is never an easy process. Generally speaking, the time to get from the physical desktop to your desired end-state (75-80% virtualized, typically) will be in the order of a few years. In some scenarios with complex use cases and countless users, that time period may even be as long as three to five years. For those about to embark on the years-long journey, or ready to take the next step at least, there is one approach that can help to ease the transition to client virtualization – the use of full clones instead of linked or instant clones.

Before I get too far though, I should mention that there’s a bit of a “holy war” involved with one of the assumptions that I make in this article. That being, there is a desired end-state where virtual desktops are completely stateless and user settings, files, etc., are managed by an external user environment management (UEM) solution. This is the bigstock-Business-worker-sitting-on-con-170494052.jpgstance that I take and will be writing to. If you don’t adhere to that position, never fear! All of the advice on managing full clone persistent virtual desktops still applies.

First, a little background on linked and instant clones vs. full clones. VMware Horizon 7 has multiple options for minimizing datastore disk space consumption by VDI desktops, those being linked and instant clones. These deployment mechanisms can provide an immense amount of storage capacity savings; however, operationally, they are very different from physical PCs. For use cases that require user-setting and data persistence, UEM is a requirement. On top of that, typically newer and more complex application delivery methods are leveraged. Full clones, on the other hand, generally use the same operational processes as physical desktops. This can make the transition from physical to virtual much easier, and is often seen as a good first step towards the end-state mentioned above. However, there are drawbacks such as not enough storage space-saving mechanisms inherent to full clone desktops. Additionally, all of a sudden, the group managing the system has to care about the state of each and every desktop.

During this transition period from physical to virtual desktops, and perhaps even after the transition is complete, your business will need to maintain a large number of physical desktops alongside the virtual environment. The ability to manage all of those desktops with a unified solution is absolutely huge for enterprise desktop management. To fully embrace that single point of management and ease transition, it’s a good idea to leverage full clone virtual desktops with persistent user assignment. That is, the user gets the same desktop each time they log in, applications are then installed into the VM and user data persists locally. Essentially, we’re talking about the same overall data and application management as your physical desktops.

Now, earlier I mentioned that one of the commonly cited drawbacks of full clone desktops is that they take up more space than linked or instant clones; however, the HPE SimpliVity 380 powered by Intel®  offers data reduction via in-line deduplication and compression, which allows you to store your full clone desktops as space efficiently as linked clones. This is a key consideration when planning your migration, as it allows you to plan for your end state. If this wasn’t the case, you’d end up overbuying on capacity for space-inefficient full clones, or worse, compromising on your migration strategy due to platform limitations.

When you move a user’s desktop out of their cubicle and into your datacenter, there’s an expectation that the virtual desktop will be both highly available and quickly recoverable. When you get to that desired end-state of fully non-persistent desktops, there are many ways to protect that redirected user persona depending on the UEM solution used. Until you get to that point, though, you will need an efficient method for protecting the individual desktops. The HPE SimpliVity 380 hyperconverged solution enables you to protect these full clone desktops in the event of a major disaster in your datacenter. By leveraging the built-in backup and recovery functionality in the HPE SimpliVity platform, you can quickly get your end users back up and running.

To bring it all home, using full clones instead of linked clones can be a good first step on your journey towards a fully virtualized client environment. Don’t let storage capacity hold you back – HPE SimpliVity 380 enables the use of full clones without compromising space efficiency. On top of that, you get the benefits of maintaining operational processes between physical and virtual desktops, along with all of the resiliency and data protection features that are built-in to the HPE SimpliVity platform.

To learn more about how hyperconvergence can simplify your datacenter, download the free ebook: How Hyperconvergence Can Help IT.


Jason is an IT architect with 15 years of industry experience, mainly focused on server and client virtualization. He is VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) #183, certified in both Datacenter Virtualization (VCDX5/6-DCV) and Desktop and Mobility (VCDX-DTM). As the principal architect for client virtualization solutions at HPE SimpliVity, Jason designs and validates VMware and Citrix client virtualization solutions on HPE SimpliVity infrastructure.

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