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Virtual Desktop Images Must Be Optimized

Top 10 mistakes to avoid with virtual desktops

Building a virtual desktop is simply a matter of installing the Windows operating system. Right?  Slow down... although this will work, it won't give you the best performance and scalability.  One of the items that many people mistakenly forget to accomplish is to optimize the base operating system.  This is the 7th mistake out of the top 10 mistakes made with virtual desktops:

10.  Not calculating user bandwidth requirements

9.    Not considering the user profile

8.   Lack of Application Virtualization Strategy

7.  Improper Resource Allocation

6.  Protection from Anti-Virus

5. Managing the incoming storm

Most people spend time creating a customized standard operating environment for their desktop operating systems.  This often involves specific location settings, default application settings, and desktop descriptions.  However, when delivering an operating system into a virtual desktop, many organizations do not go far enough to optimize the desktop for the virtualized environment.  Whether the desktop is a hosted VM-based VDI desktop, a local streamed desktop or a hosted shared desktop, certain optimizations allow the hardware to focus on user-related tasks as opposed to extraneous system-related tasks. The following are examples of virtual desktop optimizations:

  • Disable Last Access Timestamp: Each time a file is accessed within an operating system, a time stamp is updated to identify when that file was last accessed.  Booting up an operating system accesses hundreds and thousands of files, all of which must be updated. Each action requires disk and CPU time that would be better used for user-related tasks.  Also, if Provisioning services is used to deliver the desktop image, those changes are removed when the desktop is rebooted.
  • Disable Screen Saver: Utilizing a graphical screen saver consumes precious memory and CPU cycles when the user is not even using the desktop. Those processes should be freed and used by other users.  If screen savers are required for security purposes, then simply blanking the screen should be invoked as this does not impact the memory and CPU consumption.
  • Disable Unneeded Features: Windows 7 contains many valuable components like Media Center, Windows DVD Maker, Tablet PC Components, and Games.  These applications are memory, CPU and graphics intensive and are often not required in most organizations.  If these components are made available to users, they will be used. It is advisable to remove unneeded services before deploying the first images.

These are only a few recommendations, but it is obvious that optimizations have a major impact on the virtual desktop environment. To get the latest for Citrix XenDesktop implementations, refer to the XenDesktop Design Handbook.

More Stories By Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller, Lead Architect of Worldwide Consulting Solutions for Citrix, is responsible for providing enterprise-level architectures and recommendations for those interested in desktop virtualization and VDI. He is charged with helping organizations architect the next-generation desktop, including all flavors of desktop virtualization (hosted shared desktops, hosted VM-based desktops, hosted Blade PC desktops, local streamed desktops, and local VM-based desktops). Many of the desktop virtualization architecture decisions also focuses on client hypervisors, and application virtualization.

In his role, Daniel has provided insights and recommendations to many of the world’s largest organizations across the world.

In addition to private, customer-related work, Daniel’s public initiatives includes the creation of best practices, design recommendations, reference architectures and training initiatives focused on the core desktop virtualization concepts. Being the person behind the scenes, you can reach/follow Daniel via Twitter and on the Virtualize My Desktop site.

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