Channel Partners Make Virtual Desktop Infrastructure a Reality

Implementing VDI strategy requires expertise that many organizations lack. To reap virtual desktop benefits that include cost savings and better security, many IT pros turn to system integrators, resellers and other service providers to set up the VDI and make sure IT staff know how to make the most of it.

By John Moore
Wed, August 29, 2012

CIO — When the New York Army National Guard sought a technology changeover that would move it away from conventional PCs, the organization tapped a channel ally to help get the job done.

The Guard tapped systems integrator Force 3 as its partner for deploying a virtual desktop environment. The work actually involved two projects; one for the Guard's research and development network and the other for the organization's production network.

Key technologies included VMware View desktop virtualization software and PC-over-IP zero clients from Samsung.

Clarke Caporale, information assurance manager with the New York Army National Guard, says working with an integrator instead of going it alone helped shorten deployment time. Force 3 got the desktop virtualization project up and running and into production in a week and a half, he says. "With a system as complex as VMware View, it would take us three weeks to get everything configured and installed, and another month of training to get up on our feet, even in a limited capacity."

VDI Skills Vital to Inexperienced Firms

The benefits of VDI stem from the ability to run desktops and applications within the central data center. Advocates say this approach provides better security and eases the administration burden.

For example, an IT manager can patch and update a few virtualized desktop images centrally instead of dealing with diverse desktop devices individually. Virtualization also makes for a device-agnostic environment. Organizations can use the VDI approach to manage a range of gear including thin clients, zero clients, tablets and other mobile devices. VDI also can also help the IT shop avoid frequent tech refresh cycles. Since the heavily lifting of computing takes place behind the firewall, client-side devices remain viable over a longer period.

The Guard isn't the only enterprise turning to the channel for assistance with virtual desktop infrastructure technology. Government and corporate IT shops tend to have sufficient expertise in the server flavor of virtualization, but the VDI skill set often proves harder to pull together. Accordingly, some virtual desktop adopters are tapping resellers and integrators to kick start their projects.

Channel companies play a number of roles in VDI, from pure consulting and advisory services to installation and training. Meanwhile, integrators contribute their experience in virtualization products and integration approaches, guiding customers toward objectives ranging from hardware cost reduction to mobile device security.

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In the Guard's case, the capability to access VDI skills motivated its partnering initiative. Retirements and federal budget pressure limit the supply of IT staffers available to government agencies.

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