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Making virtualization, reality

How to Choose the Right VDI Platform for Your Organization

Security, fluidity, scalability—all of these matter when choosing a new Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, but none matter as much as usability. When the goal of VDI is to make working life easier for employees across all devices and platforms, the most important factor has got to be end user experience.

There are four dominant VDI platforms on the market, each with its own pros and cons. They all offer proven secure environments, single-console management and a clean UX. There’s no bad option—but you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.

Citrix – We’ve rallied behind Citrix before for their clean UX and easy usability. There’s a lot to like about Citrix products: they offer a fluid mobile platform, XenMobile; ShareFile is one of the most secure ways to send encrypted files across the web; and troubleshooting with HDX Insight can save a lot of IT repair time. With their ICA protocol, Citrix can also offer fast loading speeds regardless of your online connection, which is great for handling complex graphics and large files, or even just streaming audio or video clips. Citrix’s real ace, though, is its broader support for hypervisors and clients and a more expansive set of features built into its HDX, which its competitors can’t match.

VMware – VMware is a solid contender with a huge reputation among large corporations. They’re renowned for simple architecture design and, like Citrix, they offer their own hypervisor and support several others. Their flagship product, VMware Horizon 6 Enterprise (with View), is ideal for enterprises with lots of remote employees, because they use something called “Blast technology” to optimize the end user experience through WAN and LAN connections—meaning any user’s interaction with the interface will be guaranteed to be consistent, regardless of the device used.

Microsoft – Another VDI geared towards enterprises, Microsoft VDI is better suited to platforms running on PCs, although it offers OS X, Android and iOS device users the same user experience. The management console is centralized to make the virtualization easier for users and managers alike, through either a direct-attached, network-attached, clustered or storage area network. Their UX is a little less intuitive than VMware’s or Citrix’s, which is what keeps them from being bigger players in the field so far.

Dell – Dell’s VDI platform targets smaller businesses rather than major enterprises, although some of the latter category also find Dell’s software preferable. That might be because their flagship vWorkspace offers high-quality video and audio using direct-attached storage (DAS) instead of a SAN. DAS isn’t always faster, though corporate environments find it easier to work with DAS because of the strict management and huge scale of SAN. Dell offers good scalability and diagnostics reports, and supports all the main hypervisors on the market.

Which to choose?

There’s no clear choice in these situations—that’s why it’s best to talk to a consultant and lay out your individual needs and budget. Some enterprises don’t need every feature on the market, whereas others won’t know what they need until they try out each platform to see for themselves.

It’s complicated stuff. That’s why it helps to tackle this process one step at a time, and an experience service provider can help.

Trent Dilkie

Trent Dilkie

Trent Dilkie has come a long way in the last 30 plus years, from engineering student at the University of New Brunswick to VP Strategic Initiatives & CSO at Gibraltar Solutions. Today, Trent is an important part of the Gibraltar team, as his expertise in security has allowed him to be involved in ethical hacking and building computer security assessments and new security practices. He has also developed solutions for mobile device integration into corporate IT, Bring Your Own Computer programs and Mac@Work programs.