Choosing the right application or desktop virtualization software can make all the difference between a seamless transition to the cloud and a headache. Whether you're looking for server hardware or desktop software, there are a few factors to consider before jumping in. In this blog post, I'll break down some of these factors so you can know what to look for when choosing a virtualization software platform for your organization.
Free Trials and Proofs of Concept
Free trials, or a Proof of Concept (PoC), are a great way to test out desktop virtualization, or the DaaS platform, and see if it is right for your organization. Most major software or platform vendors will allow you to do so in a real-world environment, with your data and applications, and with your users and network. This has become a core tenant of Whitehat Virtual's PoC environment; test your applications for performance, sizing, and scaling an eventual production environment before spending significant money putting a production solution in place and risk being disappointed after the budget is spent. Citrix DaaS and VMware Horizon provide free desktop virtualization/server-based computing trials.
Licensing is one of the most important factors to consider before deciding on virtualization software. Is the software licensed by the device, the end-user, and/or by concurrent user? It's not enough to consider how many users will need access to the software and what devices they will use to access applications. It would help if you also considered how often users need access, from where, and how much storage space will be required for each. If you're going with cloud-based technology, you need to know what the specific licensing requirements are.
Documentation and Support
Documentation and support are two areas you want to consider when choosing an application or desktop virtualization software. The documentation should be clear, easy to follow, and include examples. For those looking to build an internal application or desktop virtualization environment, hire or select a third party that has done this work many times before to help fill in the gaps and answer questions not covered in detail in the documentation. If new to the technology, a glossary of terms is also essential because it can help keep confusion down when employees are trying to understand how the described elements and acronyms come together to deliver the final solution.
Finally, ensure that both email and phone support are available 24/7 so there aren't any issues when employees need assistance. One additional element to pay attention to is the average support resolution time. How long should your users expect to be waiting for a response?
Security is essential when choosing a DaaS or app or desktop virtualization software. Security features, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), should be standard capabilities. SAML, for its part, is a single sign-on (SSO) login method offering more secure authentication (with a better user experience) than usernames and passwords. Built-in user profile management should enable you to restrict access to specific users or groups of users and limit to specific files or drives on your server.
Application and desktop virtualization environments must be supported by server hardware sized appropriately to deliver the desired use case you have in mind for your business. When considering the purchase of virtualization software, you should investigate some of the following factors:
- Licensing model – Do you want to buy or subscribe to the software and build your environment, or do you want to leverage application and desktop virtualization software already baked into a complete platform where you pay by the desktop or by the host for server hardware/licensing resources?
- Cost of licensing – Beyond Citrix or VMware licensing, the list includes Remote Desktop Services licensing, Microsoft VDA licensing, Microsoft Server licensing, etc., that may or may not be present depending on the optimal solution needed to enable your organization to benefit from virtual desktop or DaaS technology.
- Cost of hardware – If you're planning on scaling your infrastructure up or down based on demand, this could become an issue if there isn’t enough spare capacity when needed. Maintaining extra servers, often N+1 or +2 or more extras, may be necessary to enable ongoing maintenance without impacting the production environment.
- Cost of training staff – You need to maintain certifications and appropriately message the nuances of the new environment to employees exposed to the technology for the first time.
DaaS, Application, or Desktop Virtualization can be a powerful tool enabling end-user productivity and delivering new capabilities to enable employees to work in ways and with capabilities, the organization has never experienced before. Leverage free trials and a PoC to test and validate your final desired solution before any significant dollars are spent. Licensing can be complicated. Make sure you understand your use cases and how end-users will engage with the technology daily before selecting the best available option, or partner with a company that can help you navigate these waters. Documentation and support are essential when learning how any program works, so make sure you have solid documentation or great resources available before buying anything. Follow these tips and your decision will be much easier. If you need additional help, please contact our team here, and we can help you and your team out.
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