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Does Hurricane Sandy Reignite the Desktop Virtualization Conversation?

We're facing what is being called the biggest hurricane of our generation crippling the entire east coast of the U.S. And this usually turns up the conversation to backup and recovery issues that challenges any organization reliant on physical desktops in the event of a disaster. So, how about a few questions to start off this blog?

  • Do you have a DR/BC plan?
  • Does that plan account for desktops or just servers and data?
  • Do you maintain a physical workspace recovery site?
  • Do your plans call for rebuilding desktops?
  • How long do you estimate to recover?

I am sure someone will make the case for having laptops and a VPN and my immediate rebuttal is, I sure hope you have enough VPN capacity for all the workers that are about to connect and I sure hope they did not forget their laptops on their desks. I also would add that I hope you have tested all these applications running over the VPN with the capacity of users expected.

With a VPN, we are opening applications locally and communicating over the link, and I hope those apps work for them. I also hope that you don't have to upgrade any applications, as someone is like to forgot to get the latest updates required for them to work. Finally, let's hope you have enough help desk personnel to address the calls that are about to hit the call center.

Let's keep going with this ... I hope that the users understand they should save the files newly created in the datacenter instead of locally on their laptops because you will be constantly figuring out how to back up that data or prevent those laptops with all this valuable information from getting lost. Remember, this is a disaster and things are more prone to happen than not, including theft, destruction, etc. It's another disaster waiting to happen when you have thousands of users running around with their laptops and corporate data on them.

Here is another scenario for you: Power is out, so folks will have to leave their homes and get to Starbucks or some other business that could provide battery and WiFi. So, hopefully those laptops are well secured so that a geeky little fella at the Starbucks who is bored and there to sniff WiFi connections isn't stealing all those files or connecting to your corporate network.

Now I am not suggesting that desktop virtualization, VDI and remote desktop session hosts will address all these issues, but they certainly will make life easier and give somewhat of a consistent user experience to the user had this technology been adopted before the disaster. It would have certainly tested the capacity capabilities of your system and put you in a position to be better prepared. The new files and data you create will definitely remain in the datacenter, your helpdesk would not be as overwhelmed and best of all you can connect from any device, so if you lose power on the main laptop, maybe that iPad has more juice and so on.

For those of you that are affected by Hurricane Sandy, I am very interested in your lessons learned. I am interested in understanding the challenges you faced and the unexpected factors like in my Starbucks example. Please share in the comments here.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 10/29/2012 at 12:49 PM


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