E-Handbook: What's new with desktop virtualization management? Article 2 of 3

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How desktop virtualization vendors are improving management

IT pros want to see better security and more monitoring capabilities in their virtual desktop management tools. The ultimate goal is a quality user experience, though.

Desktop virtualization management continues to grow and evolve as technologies change, products improve and features come and go.

Four key trends in virtual desktop management have emerged: delivering a quality user experience (UX), securing system and data resources, monitoring system and desktop resources, and streamlining system and desktop management.

Deliver a quality user experience

A poor UX can cause a virtual desktop project to fail faster than just about any other factor. As a result, desktop virtualization vendors are continually taking steps to improve that experience. There are two components to focus on when it comes to UX -- how users experience their virtual desktops and what tools administrators have for maximizing that experience.

One trend that targets both those areas is providing more efficient help desk support. By improving the tools IT has to support users, help desk personnel can work more efficiently, and users get resolutions more quickly.

Desktop virtualization vendors are also addressing UX by providing administrators with better insights into VDI deployments, such as making it easier for them to see where problems might be occurring and providing tools for immediately correcting those problems. The goal is to cause as little disruption to users as possible.

Secure system and data resources

To improve virtual desktop management, several desktop virtualization vendors have made an effort to improve their tools to help protect data and privacy, regardless of where users work or the devices they use. They continue to improve system monitoring, user authentication and data protection, with security measures that include implementing advanced cryptographic algorithms such as Secure Hash Algorithm-256.

Citrix recently launched tech previews that let administrators use Citrix Machine Creation Services to automate provisioning and securely deploy workloads in Azure Government and Azure Germany. In addition, Citrix has extended its Windows AppLocker management capabilities.

Microsoft is also getting into the act with security-related changes to Remote Desktop Services (RDS). For example, RDS deployments can now use Azure Active Directory authentication. In addition, the RDS Gateway and web roles are no longer internet-facing and vulnerable to attack.

Monitor system and desktop resources

Effective monitoring can help ensure a quality UX while making it possible to perform root-cause analytics, assess application performance, track other variables and improve desktop virtualization management.

Effective monitoring can help ensure a quality UX while making it possible to perform root-cause analytics.

A quality monitoring tool includes robust data collection and reporting within a centralized management dashboard. IT can use a host of tools to gather metrics that provide more in-depth data about running applications and services, desktop and system performance and other infrastructure components.

Desktop virtualization vendors such as Parallels have added performance monitoring dashboards. VMware now offers the vRealize Operations Service Discovery Management Pack for tracking services running in each VM and the dependencies between services from different VMs.

Vendors with more focused monitoring products are Ivanti, ControlUp and several others. LoginVSI added a new product called Login PI for continuous user monitoring. Liquidware Stratusphere UX 6.0 adds a dashboard builder, new application-related reports and the Collector Appliance for gathering client and network data. Another example is Uila v1.28, which includes transaction log enhancements and alerts for essential applications. Lakeside Software offers SysTrack Workspace Analytics, which administrators can use to monitor and analyze virtual deployments to help optimize the UX.

Streamline system and desktop management

New desktop virtualization management capabilities also help to streamline administrative tasks.

One way to do so is to include VDI session management in an administrative dashboard, which can allow administrators to perform tasks such as disconnecting users, logging them off their virtual desktops or sending them messages.

Some desktop virtualization vendors offer HTML5 consoles for deploying and maintaining VDI while others include simple, centrally managed options that only require basic administrative skills to carry out tasks. Central management consoles for keeping track of users, resources, security and workflows are common. It's also common to see better integration with applications such as Office 365 or app layering tools, as well as deeper application security capabilities with PowerShell modules or support for SQL Server Always On.

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