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Logon times play key role in virtual desktop UX monitoring

Almost everyone who’s ever used a computer has sat, head in hand, frustratingly waiting for the desktop to start up. If this productivity loss runs rampant in a VDI deployment, it can have a real cost, so it’s important for IT to get a handle on logon times.

If users detect a decline in virtual desktop performance from what they were used to with physical desktops, they are likely to revolt against the technology. To quantify the effect bloated logon times can have, ControlUp, a monitoring software provider in San Jose, Calif., conducted a study on logon performance for virtual desktops and Published applications. The results showed the importance of shorter logon times and consistency.

Gone in 31.9 seconds

The average logon time for virtual desktops was 31.9 seconds with a median of 23 seconds, according to the ControlUp study, presented in a webinar last week. The study, which tracked logons over almost two years across 876 organizations, defined desktop logons as the length of time from the instant a user enters his correct credentials to the moment the Start button becomes clickable.

The median indicates that half of the logons took 23 seconds or less, while the much higher average shows that there are significant outliers pulling the mean up — suggesting that many organizations have problems with logon consistency.

If logon times fluctuate significantly, users may be unhappy because they cannot rely on their desktops to start the same way every time. Time of day can be a key factor, as logons may take longer when more users within an organization are active at once. IT must allocate resources correctly throughout the VDI deployment to deal with peak usage times.

The discrepancy between the average and the median was not as significant for published apps, because they are less complex. The average time was 16.44 seconds, and the median was 12. Published app monitoring is important, because apps are the lifeblood of most users’ productivity.

Longer logon times for desktops and apps can be caused by oversized user profiles, resource contention issues, or misconfigurations after a storage array or network drive relocation. One way to reduce logon times is to use monitoring tools that can help pinpoint the source of slowdowns. In addition to ControlUp, products include VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon, Login PI from Login VSI, Goliath Technologies’ Logon Simulator and the Comtrade management packs for Citrix.

Quantifying the results

Organizations can get time and cost savings by reducing logon times.

OneWorld Community Health Centers in Omaha, Neb., used ControlUp’s monitoring tool to gather and analyze logon data, which revealed that the infrastructure had a VM sizing issue, said IT director Steve Elgan, in the webinar. His team added more processors with more RAM and changed the ratio of virtual CPU to physical CPU to one-to-one — reducing desktop logon times by 14 seconds. The company calculated that it saves about $10,000 per year because of time saved, and allows each doctor to see about seven extra patients each year.

Virtual Desktop