Application and desktop virtualization have become priorities for many organizations over the past decade, as IT departments have looked for ways to support remote and mobile users while also trimming the costs of hardware and software updates:
- Research and Markets estimated that the desktop virtualization market was worth $6.2 billion in 2016 but could surge to over $28 billion by 2022.
- Application virtualization is a smaller but still significant sector: MarketsandMarkets projected that it would double in size from 2015 to 2020, reaching $2.6 billion in total value.
For admins, the rise of both app and desktop virtualization presents numerous opportunities as well as challenges. Here are a few tips for overcoming the common obstacles impeding successful virtualization efforts and realizing their potential for improving the flexibility of your business:
1. Allow for personalization of virtual desktops
Desktop virtualization ideally delivers fully featured Linux-based and/or Microsoft Windows desktops to end users, so that they can securely access key programs from any device. This is exactly what solutions such as Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are designed to do.
However, buy-in from users may be limited if personalization options are available. Workers want virtual desktops that look and behave like their physical PCs, including nuances such as display settings, desktop wallpapers and default application preferences.
Tools such as Composer within VMware Horizon can save user changes on top of the base desktop images. Administrators should offer personalization options when and where appropriate, even though they slightly complicate the appealing uniformity and simplicity of basic desktop virtualization.
2. Understand the limitations of app streaming
Streaming is one of the common modes of app virtualization. It lessens the burden on the local machine by delivering supplemental components and services on-demand over the network, so that only essential pieces of the app need to be locally installed.
There are potential issues with latency and compatibility. For example, streamed apps are only compatible with the operating systems for which they were originally written. Moreover, complex programs such as 3-D computer aided design software can be difficult to properly package for streaming. Make sure you have the appropriate OSes, hardware resources and network connectivity to support streaming.
"Not all apps are equally easy to virtualize."
3. Assess which apps are easiest and most useful to virtualize
Indeed, not all apps are equally easy to virtualize. If you are planning to implement something like CAD software, then it is a good idea to implement a platform such as XenApp or XenDesktop to streamline delivery.
Unified communications applications such as Skype for Business are ideal for app virtualization. Virtualized administration - through a consolidated console - simplifies their delivery while also supporting certified Skype devices as well as a native-like experience on Windows, Linux and Apple macOS endpoints.
App and desktop virtualization: Where should you begin?
Virtualization can seem like an overwhelming subject at first, given the complexity of the technologies involved and the ways in which virtualized apps, desktops and networks represent major changes from traditional IT equivalents. A good place to start is with courses that cover the important industry platforms for virtualization.
VMware, Cisco and Citrix are all central players in virtualization through solutions such as NSX, Application Centric Infrastructure and XenApp/XenDesktop, respectively. At a New Horizons Computer Center, you can take the technical courses you need to learn about each of these vendors' products and services and begin building your skill set as a virtualization administrator. Find a location near you today to get started on your journey.