VDI Lifecycle – Four Steps to Deliver the Best End User Experience in an Ever-Changing Environment
On my personal laptop I would like to keep my version of Windows and applications up to date because of obvious reasons. Besides new features, no one wants a machine with bugs and serious vulnerabilities, right? If something goes wrong during an update, I am only wasting my own time and others will not complain about it. Unfortunately this is not the case for VDI. Since all of the resources in a centralized desktop environment are shared, the update process is not that easy. Sharing = caring daring…
When something goes wrong during patch Tuesday, the entire company will let you know on Wednesday that you messed up. Aaron Parker (@stealthpuppy) organized a survey in November 2015 with very interesting questions about desktop virtualization. One of these questions was related to the frequency of Master Image updates. I found it quite interesting that about 50% of the participants are updating their master images every month, so it seems that patches and updates are installed very quickly.
How often do you update your master images? (source)
Change is the biggest threat to EUX
Updating your master images on a regular basis helps to fix bugs, introduce new features to existing applications, implement completely new apps or solve security issues. But there is also some risk in applying change. Since these updates are provided by an external source, you are not 100% in control of the content of these changes and how they will behave in your own complex environment. Another point of concern is how frequent you are confronted with these updates.
Since the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft is no longer planning to release major Windows updates once every couple of years but will continue to develop and release new versions of Windows 10. It’s also no longer possible to postpone these Windows updates for a long time. This means that instead of a big migration project every 4 years, IT departments are now forced to test and validate their applications every six months. Especially for big enterprises with thousands of applications, this is a huge issue. Recommended read: Is Windows 10 the biggest threat to VDI user experience?
50% of enterprises will have started Windows 10 deployment by January 2017
-Gartner, Nov 2015 (Source)
I am wondering if the IT departments are planning to test the impact of these updated applications on the user experience of their VDI environment or are they just hoping for the best? We see many different and complex configurations at our customers, so we also know that many things can go wrong. Sometimes even small application updates can have a huge impact on VDI performance, and untested updates can cause unexpected downtime.
But as I already mentioned, the one thing that you cannot avoid is change. Every month new updates, hotfixes and patches are available for your unique virtual desktop environment. That’s why many of our customers ask us:
"How can we control end user experience in an ever-changing VDI, Citrix XenApp or Microsoft RDS environment?"
Control EUX in an ever-changing VDI environment
To help companies manage the impact of these changes, my colleague Mark already introduced the VDI lifecycle that included Login VSI and Login PI in February 2015. Today I am proud to announce an updated VDI Lifecycle that also includes another software product called Login AM. This product provides easy deployment, maintenance and management of dynamic Windows infrastructures and applications. But how does Login AM work together with Login VSI and Login PI?
The updated VDI Lifecycle
Step 1: Design Changes with Login AM
The first step of enabling a change is to configure it (of course). If you do this manually, an administrator needs to constantly open, update and seal the golden images. The more images you need to maintain, the more repetitive tasks you will need to perform (which increases the chance of errors). Login AM allows IT administrators to quickly apply and fully automate any software changes (e.g. patches, hotfixes, and updates) to your golden images.
Step 2: Test & Validate with Login VSI
Before deployment you want to make sure that these changes do not have a negative impact on your VDI performance. With Login VSI you can simulate realistic virtual users to test and validate your environment before sending changes into production. This enables you to know the performance impact of any change beforehand and you can make the right decisions based on objective test data. Login VSI helps to take the guesswork out of changes.
Step 3: Deploy Changes with Login AM
After verifying how changes affect your end users, you can safely deploy the update with confidence in your production environment by using Login AM. This software solution helps IT administrators to quickly deploy the validated changes to your production environment with the click of a button.
Step 4: Monitor and Alert with Login PI
Once changes are successfully implemented, you will want to make sure that the end user experience stays good. With Login PI you can monitor your production environment from an end-user perspective by simulating virtual users that constantly open applications and perform tasks. Login PI reports on application response times and will send alerts when something goes wrong before your real end-users start complaining.
Configure changes again
When you notify a problem that needs to be solved, you will move back to step 1 to configure this change again with Login AM. Repeat this continuous and routinely process for every software change in your virtualized desktop environment to deliver a world-class end-user experience.
Pretty simple right? Managing and maintaining a good user experience has never been easier. Our products help any IT department to embrace change. In case you are interested you can schedule a personal demo so we can give you more information about the VDI lifecycle and our products. Talk to you soon!