Need a Resilient VDI Solution?

Branch Out with VMware Horizon View

Tony Dancona

Remote branch offices are faced with unique technology challenges when setting up and managing desktops. Network latency, lack of onsite IT staff, data backup, and single points of failure are just a few of the challenges remote branch offices deal with on a day to day basis.

When a company decides to implement Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in their branch office(s), a proper system design is crucial to ensure the technology challenges do not adversely affect the end user experience. A good Wide Area Network (WAN) connection to the main office is a must for branch offices, but how do you continue to operate if that link goes down? Many branch offices don’t have their own IT support staff to handle these issues when they occur. So how do you keep your remote branch offices running smoothly? We have some insight into why VMware® Horizon View is an ideal virtual desktop solution for your remote branch sites.

VMware Horizon View VDI includes features that let remote offices simplify their virtual environment. One is Persona Management, which lets you separate user data and profiles from the actual system image and store it in a distinct storage infrastructure, making it easy to back up and move around. Another important feature is a robust transport protocol called PCoIP that gives remote users the highest quality virtual workspace experience. Finally, VMware Horizon View offers advanced management functionality to allow the virtual desktop environment in a remote branch office to be centrally managed by an administrator in the central office. This management functionality offsets the challenge that branch offices face with no IT staff on site.

VMware Horizon View also gives you a variety of ways to best optimize the environment. Whether you have a small branch office with just a few users or a large branch office that requires a fully-redundant infrastructure, VMware Horizon View can be configured to support the design requirements and help offset many of the risks associated with branch offices.

One key benefit of a virtual desktop infrastructure is the ability to centrally manage the local branch office desktop environment from another office. However, if local branch users connect to the central office to acquire their desktop, there is the risk that desktop connectivity will be lost if the WAN link fails between the offices. VMware Horizon View can be designed to mitigate this risk, and allow your virtual desktops to operate if your main WAN link goes down. This is achieved by putting a host in the local branch office. By placing a host in the local branch office, desktops are delivered locally by the host. If the WAN link goes down, the local desktops will still function. No new desktops can be started or modified until the WAN link comes back, but the existing desktops can function.

For branch offices that require continuous desktop access, a more robust design will protect the branch against local host failure, by letting you cluster multiple hosts to create a shared server and storage infrastructure – all centrally managed in the main data center. With centrally managed local desktop sessions and multiple local hosts, you have the flexibility to put one of the hosts in maintenance mode, or lose one of the hosts without affecting individual desktops, which means no downtime. Multiple local servers give you great performance and the potential to layer additional services on top of the infrastructure.

These designs can be coupled with persona management for additional end user data and profile redundancy. As we mentioned previously, the persona management features simplify the ability to automatically synchronize user data back to the main data center. This means that all of your individual files are preserved even if you experience a total branch office failure or loss.

An exciting new feature available from VMware, in their Horizon View and Horizon Workspace products, is the ability to access your virtual desktop directly through an HTML browser, which means you can be in front of any device at any location and still access your desktop – providing remote offices a lot of flexibility. Workspace can also be used to present applications, and share files. This functionality provides remote offices with a lot of flexibility in how end users connect resiliently to their desktop, data, and applications.

VMware Horizon Mirage allows you to design a management infrastructure for remote locations that require physical desktops. VMware Horizon Mirage provides centralized image management for Windows systems with system, application, and user data backup, and OS migration capabilities.

If you find your journey to VDI is a bit more complicated than you expected, just give us a call and we can help on the road to success!