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5 Misconceptions About Optimizing WAN Traffic For Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

More and more enterprises are turning to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as a means to reduce the expenses normally associated with traditional endpoints, such as PCs, laptops and tablets. However, successful implementations seem to be far and few between, with many VDI projects never leaving the pilot program stage.

About a year ago, Gartner estimated that there will be as many as 20 million virtual desktopsin place by 2014. A few months later, CDW found that 90% of businesses are considering or implementing client virtualization projects, most of them within the next 12 to 24 months. However, CDW also reported that companies were finding that client virtualization is more complex to implement than they realized, that ROI is difficult to calculate and that training end users can be a challenge.

Almost every VDI deployment conversation includes a critical question: How well will VDI desktops perform for end users? Add in remote workers and WAN connections, and the performance conversation becomes all-encompassing. Simply put, VDI has to perform as well as, if not better than, whatever endpoint technology is being replaced.

Therein lies the dilemma: How can an administrator improve the performance of VDI--a technology that is normally preconfigured for maximum performance--without harming the chances for deployment? Perhaps the best answer lies in what not to do--in other words, mistakes to avoid when scoping out ways to enhance the end user experience with VDI-based endpoints.

Some of those mistakes border on the obvious, while others seem unique to the intricacies of VDI. However, they all share the same result--failure to correct or anticipate performance problems.

One of the first mistakes that adventurous network managers make is to use the ideology of "accelerate all." That is where an application/WAN acceleration technology is put into place to compress and accelerate all traffic over the wire. The primary problem with that ideology is that the "bad" is often accelerated with the "good." That means low-priority traffic, such as emails or file sharing, gets boosted--often at the expense of critical traffic such as VoIP and VDI display protocols. The best way to approach that situation is to accelerate a few types of traffic while ignoring the rest.

Another mistake that network managers can make with VDI is the quick-fix solution--a situation similar to above, where acceleration technology is put into place without looking at either the big picture or the types of traffic on the network or future application loads. In many cases, a quick fix is just that, a quick fix, and more serious performance problems rear their ugly heads over time. The trick here is to plan performance management using a unified approach. In other words, select a unified performance management product instead of a one-trick-pony quick fix.

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