When it comes to managing IT in branch offices, it’s not uncommon for organizations to look at centralization. Why? Because it simply isn’t efficient to maintain local IT staff and resources in each location, especially when the work tasks being supported in each location are near-identical. Not only is the inefficiency of replicated and distributed IT management an unnecessary resource drain, it can expose the organization to greater risks of lost productivity and revenues by creating many more points of vulnerability.
Against this backdrop, desktop virtualization is a compelling technology option, because… it provides a quick and straightforward mechanism for centralizing existing distributed end-user capabilities. The recognized security, high availability and cost streamlining characteristics of desktop virtualization seem ideally suited to the branch-office requirement – unfortunately one major hurdle has consistently stood in the way: the WAN. Not only is bandwidth expensive and in some cases a constraint on application performance, but the single point of failure it presents can present a genuine risk for organizations that need constant uptime.
Where desktop virtualization has been deployed for branch office workers, it’s not uncommon to see critical application servers still located in the branch, while the virtual desktops sit in a corporate datacenter. This compounds the impact of network latency on application performance and can make life more difficult for branch employees trying to get their work done.
Of course, not all branches were created equal and not all users have the same application requirements – in terms of function and performance. Many branches have an abundance of bandwidth, but others clearly do not. In other words, any solution to the branch-office worker requirement needs to be able address a variety of requirements.
To holistically address these different needs, VMware has recently tested and validated a new Branch Office Desktop solution that delivers the efficiencies and cost savings of centralization, but doesn’t assume that every desktop image must be centralized. It combines hosted virtual desktops, with image management for physical and virtual endpoints located in the branch. By supporting a spectrum of requirements through an adaptable solution that combines both approaches, we ensure our Branch-Office Desktop can be right-sized to the specific needs of individual branch locations and workers.
For organizations with ample bandwidth—the solution leverages hosted virtual desktops with VMware View and View Composer to help enhance security, ensure high availability and streamline management. For those branches where bandwidth is constrained, but security and mobility remain critical, the solution incorporates the use of storage and compute appliances to ensure LAN-like performance can be maintained.
Examples of the storage and compute appliances validated for this design include the new Cisco Integrated Services Router G2, with E-Series UCS compute, as well as storage and compute appliances from Nutanix, Nimble and Pivot3—all partners in our Rapid Desktop Program.
For end users with laptops, desktops or unmanaged VMs, where a hosted virtual desktop wouldn’t be a good fit, the solution can embrace VMware Mirage as part of the design. With Mirage, IT can centralize complete copies of endpoint images in the datacenter where they are protected and managed, but still deliver full local execution. As an added benefit, Mirage can be used in conjunction with persistent VMs and VMware View for disaster recovery of user persona – so if an end user’s laptop goes missing or breaks —IT can quickly and easily restore their full workspace in a virtual machine.
Looking for an example of the full end-to-end solution? Well we just finished doing a validation which looks at all of these elements with IBM that additionally leverages F5 and Trend Micro as part of this design.
To find out more about the new VMware Branch Office Desktop and our supporting partners:
By Courtney Burry and Brian Gammage, chief market technologist for VMware End-User Computing