VDI is Now Deemed Critical Infrastructure, but are Organizations Ready for it?

Originally posted on myvirtualcloud.net

For a long time, EUC specialists and architects have been saying that VDI should be considered an integral part of the critical infrastructure and therefore given the same attention that core applications and databases receive in terms of availability and recoverability.

However, except for a few VDI use-cases, organizations with budget constraints have been resistant to embrace DR environments for VDI. Commonly C-Level execs thought of VDI as not a priority, or as a solution for employees to temporarily access their desktops while out of the office.

I wrote about VDI DR back in 2010, discussing different scenarios for on-premises datacenters. It somewhat sad to see that eight years later it is as relevant as ever.

However, with the new worldly conditions affecting us all, VDI is now suddenly deemed to be part of the critical infrastructure since employees are all remotely working – and VDI down, in many scenarios, is business down.

I won’t go into lengthy details, but the current options for having VDI DR boils down to the following:


DR to a Remote Datacenter

This is the most common situation where an organization has two or more datacenters that provide enough resource capacity (compute and storage) to handle a DR scenario. While there are challenges around data and application replication, the solution is pretty well understood, and both VMware and Citrix offer competitive products.

In the infrastructure realm, while there are certainly differences between products, most HCI (Datrium, Nutanix, VXRail …) and SANs (Pure, HDS …) will provide the necessary data services to make this work.

However, deploying additional infrastructure that will sit IDLE waiting for a disaster is the very reason why organizations have not been implementing DR for VDI. It is costly and does not provide an immediate return on investment.


New Cloud-based Deployment

If your organization doesn’t do VDI today and it is looking to deploy a remote environment for employees to work from, then a Cloud-based solution may be satisfactory. Companies like Workspot provide native, cloud-based desktops with integrated DR (yes, the Cloud also goes down!).

While spinning new desktops is easy, you still need to handle application availability and recoverability from your on-premise datacenter. However, if you have that covered and the Cloud desktops will be able to operate well from the Cloud, then this is perhaps a good alternative.


DR to VMware Cloud on AWS

The third and more economical option is to leverage the VMware Cloud on AWS as a DR target.

If you already have an existing on-premise VDI deployment using Citrix XenDesktop or VMware Horizon, you can use Datrium DRC (downloadable virtual appliance) and set the VMware Cloud as your target DR environment for both persistent and non-persistent desktops.

DRC uses smart replication to low-cost S3 storage, and the data is readily available for use when you need to execute the DR.

The DR workflow is automated with a native orchestrator for both virtual desktops and VDI infrastructure servers; and as for the cloud resources, you only pay when you start using them, so it provides a phenomenal ROI in comparison to on-premise solutions.

Finally, the same solution can handle core application availability and recoverability from your on-premises datacenter, and also failback the VDI when your datacenter is back up.

There’s also the option to implement only non-persistent desktops, but this option requires time-consuming application re-packaging and ensuring that user data is constantly available in the Cloud along with core application availability.

There’s certainly more to be discussed and part of a DR plan, but at a high level, these are the options available today. Did I miss something? Let me know if you have a different solution in place.