The other form of desktop virtualization is for the knowledge or mobile worker where one user will have one desktop or laptop. Here the virtualization is done on the laptop or desktop. Essentially the corporate environment is run in a virtual machine package on the user device. This allows for offline use and greater mobility but does consume local processing power and storage. It does not have as great an impact on hard costs as the shift worker case but should provide IT operational savings.
There is a third form of desktop virtualization also. A hybrid approach that is a blending of knowledge worker form with the shift worker form where you can use the data center processing power while connected to the data center and then the local processing power of the laptop/desktop when it can't connect to the data center. Changes are then synchronized when the device is reconnected to the data center.
From a storage perspective the first form, the fully hosted shift worker solution and the last form, the hybrid solution, can cause the most storage challenges. We will cover these challenges in detail over the next several entries and on our upcoming webcast "Making Sure Desktop Virtualization Won't Break Storage". At a high level the most common challenges that you deal with in these forms of desktop virtualization is periodic storage performance problems related to boot, login, logoff, shutdown, patch and antivirus updates, most commonly summarized by the term boot storms. The second challenge is dealing with new or remaining data preservation issues.
Finally there is also the cost issue. You are essentially taking the least expensive storage in the enterprise (user desktop/laptop hard drives) and putting them on a SAN and potentially using solid state disk to address the boot storm issues. As a result optimization of the data associated with desktop virtualization is critical as is keeping the cost of the storage system under control while maintaining consistent performance. Next up in this series is going to be detailing the boot storm problem and possibilities to address it.
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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.