Network traffic considerations with Virtualised Desktop

I was wondering about the future for many of the traditional network vendors when desktop virtualization is widely deployed. What happens when each user’s network traffic is just a single stream, likely encrypted, representing their entire suite of business applications?

I’m not talking about yet more tweaks for traditional thin client stuff such as Citrix and the like. UDP makes sense to get the snappiest performance but that brings issues for many WAN optimisation vendors for out-of-the-box operations.

Will there even be a place for WAN optimisation? How will traditional visibility vendors decode a single stream that, by intent, has minimised and encrypted the I/O activity for multiple applications? Even if they could, what’s the point? Conventional bandwidth management and QoS techniques are meaningless if the traffic of the individual applications cannot be separated out because it’s just one ‘TV’ channel

How about security? Some devices at the user end don’t even run software. What’s to infect? There’s no data at the user end to steal. Surely that’s the point.

I can see a place for the traditional vendors between the Data Centre and Cloud/Internet third party services but not between the Data Centre and the users. I am, and for a while at least will be, a big proponent of comprehensive network traffic visibility and the often jaw-droppingly magical qualities of WAN optimisation. I’ve made a living from these exclusively for the last 15 years but am increasingly nervous about their future relevance.

The common denominator is the network.

I read an article at TMCnet entitled “The Unvarnished Truth about VDI Desktop Virtualisation” http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2010/06/14/4846470.htm

One paragraph jumped out at me”…One thing is certain: VDI places significant loads on your network infrastructure. If you have limited bandwidth and high-latency connections, problems with performance and reliability are sure to rear their ugly heads…

It struck me that the quality and integrity of the network infrastructure, hardly the most sexy aspect of business technology, is increasingly critical to the successful deployment of (whoa, possible oxymoron approaching) a fully virtualised realisation of an enterprise’s IT communications strategy.

If like me, you’ve seen WAN optimisation evaluations humbled by a simple (but thitherto unknown) NIC duplex mismatch, you will know and despise the crippling effects of a less than perfect network infrastructure.

With all of this in mind in mind I have developed a passionate obsession with PathView Cloud from AppNeta (www.appneta.com). Clear and straightforward business-friendly SLA reporting for all the relevant aspects of an entire IT infrastructure drilling down seamlessly to monitoring, notifications and deep diagnostics of an individual communications path.

I dread to think how many network management vendors aspirations would have been cut short if PathView Cloud been around 20 years ago.

For an enlightened view of your own network infrastructure go to http://www.appneta.com and pay attention to PathView Cloud. I guarantee you will not regret it. You really don’t want to be the last one to get on board!

Cheers, Cliff.

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