Take Five With Tom Fenton
5 Attributes to Look for in Your VDI Client
Whether you're using an on-premises or off-premises VDI solution, there are specific qualities to consider when selecting an endpoint client for your users.
I recently had a chance to work with zero, thin, thick and native clients in a VDI environment from some of the top VDI vendors: Lenovo, Samsung and HP. All of these devices worked extremely well, but whenever I tell people about my work with them, I invariably get asked the same question: "Which was the best one?" And I always give the same answer -- it depends on the VDI end user's use case.
So, whether you're using an on-premises or off-premises VDI solution from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Leostream, Amazon Web Services or any of the other VDI vendors, here are five attributes that you should consider when deciding on which endpoint solution you should select for your users.
Management Software. The first attribute you should investigate is the management software that you can use with your endpoint solution. Some vendors include this software with their device or you can get third-party endpoint management solutions. Yes, the virtual desktop is managed using the VDI software and your existing desktop management tools, but you'll also need to configure, update and manage the endpoint solution, as well. That being said, it's important to make sure that your management solution can manage all the devices in your deployment regardless if it's comprised of dedicated hardware devices or repurposed PCs.
Form Factor. In your research process, it will be beneficial to first identify how your users are going to use the client, and then pick the correct form factor of the device to best suite your users' needs. For example, if you have mobile workers, you will want to get them mobile cloud clients, such as thin client laptops or Chromebooks. End users that are cubical-bound, on the other hand, can get by with the most cost-effective form factor.
Client Type. There are many different types of clients you can buy. With the most popular being zero, thin, thick or native clients. Moreover, the attributes of each client type varies greatly; for example, zero clients tend to be the most secure client type because they have a very small OS footprint and, for the most part, have read-only storage. Alternatively, other client types may offer more flexibility and may have custom-configured features. It's also very important to make sure that the client type you choose supports the protocol that you'll be using to connect to your VDI solution.
Hardware Practicalities. Although much of the desktop processing is carried out on a server that's hosting the virtual desktops, you'll need to make sure that the endpoint solution you decide on can make the end users as productive as possible. Specifically, a few questions you'll want to ask include: Does the endpoint device support the number of monitors as the resolution required? Does it have enough ports to support all the devices (that is, printers, scanners and so on) that the end users will be connecting to it?
A Trustworthy Vendor. After you've decided on the attributes that your end users will need in their endpoint device, you'll probably have multiple vendors from which to select. In this case, my advice boils down to this: Go with a vendor you trust. Although VDI endpoint devices are extremely reliable, issues may come up, so it's crucial to make sure your vendor offers the support that you need for the endpoint solution on which you decide.
Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 25 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 15 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He previously worked at VMware as a Senior Course Developer, Solutions Engineer, and in the Competitive Marketing group. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.