SAN infrastructure often proves to be one of the most costly components in a VDI implementation and for a lot of organizations, has proven to be a serious barrier to VDI adoption… a real show stopper.
As we know, there are several ways in which a VDI environment can be implemented (1:1 Dedicated images, Pooled, Layered, Componentized, provisioned etc.. the list of terms is endless), yet only one deisgn will satisfy both the needs of the IT department (cost, management overhead, implementation time etc..), and more importantly, for it to be accepted, satisfy the needs of the user.
From my experience, early VDI adoption was implemented by taking an existing desktop, creating a virtual image of it, and then placing it straight into a datacenter. This approach was quick to migrate users to the new delivery mechanism, however unfortunately it did not provide IT with a low cost, easy to manage environment.
In the above model, a huge amount of storage is required for a dedicated 1:1 relationship between the user and their desktop image – typically a minimum of 10GB per desktop, more realistically I would say 20GB per desktop. Coupled with this, IT still have to manage the same amount of desktops, it just so happens all the desktops are now hosted in a datacenter as opposed to spread around the organization and out in the field. Tasks such as patching and updating desktops still need to be done on a mass scale.
To reduce the amount of storage required, desktops can be pooled or provisioned, ideally from just a single master image of the Operating System and Application set. While this reduces the management overhead and SAN requirements, it does however also significantly reduce the end user experience as all users are now working from a standard, un-personalized desktop.
From the organizations we have been working with, a true VDI environment works at low cost, using a small amount of storage, with minimal amount of management yet still provides a feature rich, personalized desktop that responds quickly to user actions. This has been achieved through the use of user environment management (UEM) technologies.
A UEM solution helps to reduce SAN requirements and also ensure user satisfaction by automatically applying user personality (a combination of tailored policy and user personalization) to desktops and applications, providing a familiar, personal working environment.
A 1:1 relationship between user and desktop can now be achieved without the costly overheads of a large SAN infrastructure. Making VDI is not only available at lower cost, but more importantly, accepted by the user population.
So to summarize, yes, SAN is a major consideration when looking at VDI, although it can be reduced if combined with a user environment management solution.