Windows XP Retirement – New Computer v VDI Rollout
When faced with the prospect of retiring Windows XP from a network, the task can become quite a headache both financially and technically. The two most common choices are either replacement of existing hardware or migration to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Each has it’s merits and drawbacks and I’ll set them out briefly below. Bearing in mind that this is a big project and every business case will be different it would be wise to enlist the help of a company or consultant that can guide the process.
First off to explain VDI as it is a relatively specialised concept. VDI is the virtualisation of a computer so that the processing and data are stored on a server. In the diagram below it is a Microsoft Terminal Services setup but the same is true for Citrix and VMware solutions. The client PC’s and laptops are become KVM devices meaning that they are charged with providing ‘Keyboard, Video and Mouse’ functions. This results in a very low overhead on the client PC and facilitates the usage of older more basic hardware. There are also thin clients which can provide the same functionality and cost a fraction of what a PC would cost.When choosing for your business there are a number of things that should be part of the decision process. The main items would be:
|How many computers do you operate?||A server for Terminal Services is not cheap and anything less than 10 computers would not be recommended from a cost perspective.|
|Is remote working important or would it be a major benefit to your organisation||VDI creates a much easier method of remote working that allows end users operate from any computer remotely as if they were onsite.|
|How reliable is your internet connection||VDI usage from outside your internal network will require a strong reliable link and in a lot of cases a secondary link over a different medium for failover.|
|Do you anticipate a significant increase in headcount in the short to medium term.||VDI allows for a much cheaper user take on both in terms of hardware cost and also setup. Desktops can be deployed from images in a matter of seconds.|
|Do you qualify as a Charity / Educational customer||Licencing costs for a VDI rollout are considerably lower if you qualify as one of the aforementioned categories.|
|Have you bespoke or off the shelf software that does not support VDI roll out||Not necessarily the death knell for your VDI rollout if it’s a one off computer in the network but if it’s critical then you’ll want to look at the standard rollout model, or change software (if that’s feasible)|
|Do you have the necessary skills either internally or via 3rd party to operate VDI||VDI requires a lot more knowledge than the usual turn it off and on again approach and requires a reasonable level of expertise to manage. It’s not labour intensive or anything like that, just more specialised.|
|Have you a non-pc environment?||If you operate a very disparate range of equipment including Mac’s and Linux machines then VDI may not be your thing, however VDI does allow those users access a Windows OS system from within their devices which can be a major plus.|
After weighing the pro’s and cons if you still think there is merit to going the VDI route then get your provider to cost up both options and then make your final decision. Bear in mind that cost should not be the only deciding factor (unless circumstances dictate it has to be) as there are obvious performance and DR benefits to the VDI option which are somewhat intangible but can greatly boost productivity and performance.