By guest blogger, Nathan Pearce, EMEA product manager, F5
Key themes at Infosec 2012 included the security aspects of BYOD and remote/mobile working, making Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) a hot topic.
VDI deployments have been growing. Today we’re working in a diversified market where full-blown solutions are offered alongside more niche ‘point functionality’ products. But what customers really want right now from a VDI solution is the power to use secure, single sign-on access for users accessing applications and data stores over remote connections.
So here’s the problem — today, when a user signs in to a VDI offering, there are as many as four login processes to pass:
- Device login
- Remote access login
- Login to the VDI solution
- Login to the VDI desktop itself.
This scenario is annoying (some would even say unacceptable) given the needs of modern mobile workers. But while this process must be capable of being governed by a single sign-on option, security must remain of paramount importance.
Operation needs to be seamless and transparent, i.e. anything which feels clunky or suffers from poor usability will not wash with the demanding users of today. A key part of successfully rolling out a VDI solution involves providing users with something that they can be ‘bothered’ to use properly, following the required security process controls.
Allied to these usability concerns is performance, i.e. if a VDI solution’s applications suffer from latency over a reasonably good network connection, they won’t be successful in the long term. This means that a VDI should also offer tools to determine how much bandwidth a given implementation will need. BIG-IP Application Delivery Controller technology from F5 works to offer application delivery tools that optimise network traffic for a particular VDI installation.
Running on F5’s TMOS operating system, BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) improves the performance of all networked applications. VDI installations use more network communications than most networked applications, so BIG-IP LTM does more to improve their performance. Adding in the advanced capabilities of BIG-IP add-on modules for security, WAN optimisation and web acceleration can significantly reduce the need for additional infrastructure.
As obvious as it may sound, you can’t implement a VDI solution that runs at a level lower than the current installation already in place; so any newly-adopted VDI offering needs to not only be a step forward, it also has to physically perform its central function effectively and be able to work remotely.
Naturally, the VDI market will change as it matures; new vendors will enter, old vendors will evolve, and new operating systems may even fold in (at the OS level) some functionality that is currently offered only by VDI vendors.
F5 ADCs are vendor-agnostic and will continue to support top-tier VDI vendors such as Microsoft, VMware and Citrix with devices that are knowledgeable in the overall network and application ecosystem.