A Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Checklist for Government Agencies

Four tips for agencies considering VDI.

IT officials who have experience with virtual desktop infrastructure warn that while VDI is ideal for some uses, it does have limitations.

Agencies interested in VDI should consider it for these uses:

  • Employees who use standard applications;
  • Teleworkers who need streamlined, reliable and secure access to agency resources;
  • Mobile workers who need access to agency resources using a wide variety of devices.

VDI is not ideal for other uses, including:

  • Applications running on mainframe or legacy systems or specialized applications that can’t be virtualized;
  • Applications that need more intensive processing power, such as video editing, or that need to run locally;
  • Functions or employees that lack continuous access to reliable Internet connectivity.

For IT leaders who are interested in implementing VDI here are four tips:

  • Know the agency’s requirements. Identify a use case that matches the capabilities of VDI with the needs of the agency and make sure that the requirements are well-defined, measurable and achievable, says Chris Fudge, branch chief for Census VDI at the Census Bureau.

  • Initiate a small pilot. Pick 15 to 20 users who fit within the use case, advises Mark Margevicius, vice president and research director of client computing for Gartner. “Keep it lightweight, keep it quiet and identify users who are comfortable with change and willing to provide honest feedback on what the limitations are and what the value is,” he says. “Once you’ve gone through that process, you’ll be in a much better position to make an informed decision as to how applicable this is to a broader audience within the larger organization.”

  • Go to the experts. Transitioning to VDI, even on a small scale, is complex, so seek out vendors who know what’s involved in defining, building and implementing the architecture and talk to other agencies about their experience and lessons. “Don’t go it alone,” says Lee Neely, senior cybersecurity analyst for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. “There are a lot of people looking at this and a lot of information out there, so leverage what others know and have done. You don’t have to try and invent this wheel by yourself.”

  • Roll the solution out slowly and methodically. You only get one shot at a first impression, says Chuck Riddle, CIO of the Government Printing Office. “If you blow that, your users are not going to be as inclined to use the solution,” he adds. “You want to get users engaged enough to use it because otherwise your cost becomes a lot more expensive.”

Read more about how virtual desktop infrastructure can increase mobile security.

<p>Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock</p>
Feb 12 2013