Working at home poses many challenges. One smart solution for enterprises that continues to help maintain business continuity is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). It enables IT organizations to deliver a corporate endpoint experience on relatively inexpensive hardware while maintaining strict IT standards that will provide benefits well into the future. 

Staying Agile in the Home Office 

Remote work is here to stay, so businesses need to ensure a high-quality user experience while evolving their work-from-home strategies. Today’s VDI improves endpoint security while boosting workforce agility and simplifying network access. 

VDI runs a thin client on the end-user laptop, a virtual work scape representation, to provide the desktop, virtualized applications, or other resources. Solutions usually include on-premise servers, storage, and network components, but cloud deployments are becoming more widespread due to recent events.  

The value this solution offers continues to grow in either form — the VDI market is currently worth $4.8 billion, with cloud deployment accounting for roughly 10%. 

Given the current business climate, VDI is experiencing a surge in demand as enterprises seek flexible, cost-effective ways to provide scalable, high-quality service to remote users. Despite its many benefits, VDI solutions are complex service chains relying on many other IT services. It's notoriously susceptible to both client and server farm capacity and network bandwidth, distance, and the number of hops. Enterprises need to ensure that they are delivering an optimal user-experience. That, in turn, requires visibility across this complex service chain to connect the dots across multiple silos. 

Preparing for the Long Haul 

IT pros embraced VDI at the beginning of quarantine because it gave them the capacity to provide a secure computing environment to remote employees and lock applications and privileges. But for the user to adopt the solution and be productive, IT had to deliver a good user experience. 

If VDI has emerged as a pillar of work-from-home technologies, another is unified communication and collaboration (UC&C); also, highly sensitive to network bandwidth, packet loss, and jitter. Given that VDI-based workers could be accessing UC&C services from inside VDI sessions, operators face the additional challenge of managing delivery of a complex service like UC&C across another complex service like VDI, further underscoring the need for end-to-end visibility. 

One of VDI's biggest strengths, policy- and profile-based management, could be one of its weaknesses during a period of frequent changes such as a pandemic. A policy designed for a local branch office may not apply to another location across the country or the globe. Moreover, frequent changes often result in human errors, while even as-planned changes often can have unintended consequences given VDI runs on a shared infrastructure. Planning for a flexible, scalable, end-to-end visibility solution and VDI and UC&C, is always a good idea. 

Finally, VDI and UC&C need to undergo rigorous capacity planning. The last capacity planning cycle did not account for the exponential growth in remote work this year. Because of this, industry leaders should manage risk by adopting a proactive approach that allows for quick triage of bottlenecks and long term (capacity) metric collection across VDI infrastructure UC&C and all service they rely on, including servers and network. 

Reducing Risk by Increasing Visibility 

VDI is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Like any enterprise technology, it is highly sensitive to network latency and data packet loss. Lack of server farm capacity is also a leading cause of a slow VDI connection, worsening application response times, and making under-resourced client devices perform poorly. Now, with a record-high number of concurrent users, strains are far more common. 

But productivity suffers when the user experience is below expectations, which means the system has little margin for error. Enterprises require seamless logon and a responsive session, so IT pros need to eliminate silos and increase productivity by continually optimizing performance and building a resilient VDI network. 

The best way to catch problems early is by tracking the VDI user experience while monitoring key performance indicators for every tier of the service chain, often only possible by adding vendor-neutral monitoring capabilities to existing native solutions. Businesses can only then reap the benefits of collaboration across all involved IT silos to reduce operating expenses and deliver exceptional service. 

Remote work amplifies the need for preparedness and resiliency, which means companies need total and pervasive visibility into all work-from-home technologies and business services. Arming operators with the required visibility to triage problems quickly ensures not only a positive and sustainable remote work experience now but well into whatever the new normal brings us.