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Desktop Virtualization... The Right Way (Part 5)

A Bad User Experience Will Break You

The user discussion doesn't just end with an understanding of the topology. Desktop virtualization architecture will only get a users so far: access to a virtualized desktop. If the virtualized desktop does not provide the required experience in different scenarios, users will find ways of reverting back to their traditional model or find a way to make life very difficult for you, the architect of this less than stellar solution.

Trying to get these users back is challenging as the bad perceptions must be changed and that takes time. Many of the missteps with regards to the user experience are based on improper analysis and planning. In order to have an environment that is aligned with the user community, understanding the following items are critical.

  • Network Impact: Desktop virtualization requires a network connection, either temporary or permanent depending on the virtual desktop model selected.  Trying to understand the network impact is not a trivial task and will never get one to the exact numbers because user will do different things like typing, printing, browsing, Flash video, WMV video, online Facebook games, etc. However, the Performance Assessment and Bandwidth Analysis white paper should help understand the impact of each activity and allow an architect to plan appropriately.
  • Peripherals: One of the beauties of a traditional desktop is it is customizable with peripherals: printers, scanners, webcams, and external drives. These requirements must be understood and supported, but not at the expense of security.  For example, should users be able to copy data from the data center to a personal USB storage drive? This might be construed as a security hole. What about allowing a user to copy a file from the USB drive to the data center? This might put the data center at risk for viruses or malware. The justification for certain devices must be determined, but regardless of the outcome, proper security procedures must be put into place.
  • Resources: Users who are not given the proper amount of dedicated resources (CPU and memory) are either left with a desktop experience that is unusable due to the constant delays and sluggish responses because of competing resource requests or a desktop with ample resources but costing the business significant amounts of money due to unused and idle hardware. Although it is easier to allocate one resource configuration for every user, users have different requirements and should be given different configurations. It is usually a better option to create 3-4 different resource configurations for Light, Normal and Power users.  With proper analysis of the requirements, users can be placed into one of a few defined configurations.
  • Mobility: A user's requirement for offline mobility plays an important part in the over analysis. This one requirement significantly limits the possibilities for the user in respect to the most appropriate FlexCast model. Many desktop virtualization models require an active network connection. An active network connection is not guaranteed for the mobile user. Identifying this group of users allows for the design of an offline model of desktop virtualization.


These are some of the most important things to understand regarding the users and their experience expectations.  If a user believes they are allowed to use a webcam within their virtual desktop and it does not work, that user now has a bad perception. The experience matters to the user,  so it must matter to the architect.

More Stories By Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller, Lead Architect of Worldwide Consulting Solutions for Citrix, is responsible for providing enterprise-level architectures and recommendations for those interested in desktop virtualization and VDI. He is charged with helping organizations architect the next-generation desktop, including all flavors of desktop virtualization (hosted shared desktops, hosted VM-based desktops, hosted Blade PC desktops, local streamed desktops, and local VM-based desktops). Many of the desktop virtualization architecture decisions also focuses on client hypervisors, and application virtualization.

In his role, Daniel has provided insights and recommendations to many of the world’s largest organizations across the world.

In addition to private, customer-related work, Daniel’s public initiatives includes the creation of best practices, design recommendations, reference architectures and training initiatives focused on the core desktop virtualization concepts. Being the person behind the scenes, you can reach/follow Daniel via Twitter and on the Virtualize My Desktop site.

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