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5 Steps for a Successful Hybrid Cloud VDI Deployment

As public cloud offerings mature, organizations are ready to take advantage of their scalability, flexibility, and potential cost-savings for hosting desktops and applications - while also maintaining legacy on-prem infrastructure. A hybrid cloud approach offers a best-of-both-worlds solution with unique advantages, such as bursting into the cloud during times of high demand, mixing and matching clouds to create a multi-cloud environment, easy remote access, and more.

However, a hybrid cloud is not without its own challenges. Creating a hybrid environment means managing resources across multiple platforms while still maintaining a seamless end-user experience.

ADVANTAGES OF A HYBRID CLOUD

A hybrid cloud solution offers unique advantages over a completely on-prem or a completely cloud solution.

"Best of both worlds" approach

If designed appropriately, a hybrid cloud leverages the best of both your on-premises infrastructure and the cloud.

Workloads that have an elastic capacity need, or that are expensive to scale in your datacenter are good candidates for moving to the cloud. So, it makes sense to use each platform for what it can do best.

Move to the cloud - slowly

By investing in a hybrid strategy, you can expand your cloud strategy slowly, over time. This way, your users experience little or no downtime or changes to their experience. This is important because no matter where you host your desktops and applications, user experience is the end-all, be-all measure of success.

Compute: here today, gone tomorrow

In the public cloud, additional compute is as simple as a quick spin up of a new instance. Today's public cloud providers offer a wide range of instance types - including high powered GPU-enabled instances for graphics-intense applications.

Remote access: anywhere, anytime

The easy remote access of the public cloud can help you improve the end-user experience by providing additional, more powerful compute when needed. This ensures users can work from anywhere.

Limit access to your datacenter

Organizations leverage the public cloud to limit access to their data center. The cloud offers a way to provide a buffer zone where temporary or contract workers can access resources. Providing a "browser in the cloud", can also make it harder for users to download viruses to their laptops.

STEP ONE: EVALUATE EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE

The first step in your hybrid cloud journey is to evaluate what you already have in your datacenter. This gives insight into what is already working, and what can be moved to the cloud.

Some key components to keep in mind and the questions to ask yourself are:

Desktops and applications

Which of these are best to move to the cloud?

Networking and authentication servers

Consider your on-premises domain and active directory server. How do you plan to leverage those? Will you also want a multi-factor authentication system for your public-cloud resources (think Google Authenticator)? Will resources hosted in the public cloud need to be joined to your corporate domain?

Storage

For compute intensive applications, it's often better to co-locate the data with the applications to cut down on data transfers. Look at everything you have, where it is, and how it will be used. Use that information to determine what's best to move into the cloud or stay local.

STEP TWO: COMPARE CLOUD OFFERINGS

When it comes to selecting a cloud vendor, you have a lot of options to choose from. We've worked with customers using all of the major public

cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), as well as private clouds and open-source varieties like OpenStack. Different clouds have different strengths, so consider mixing and matching to suit the needs of each unique use case.

When you compare clouds look at:

  • Regional datacenters and availability - Consider where your users are based and whether those locations are supported
  • Pricing models - Drill into volume discounts, per-minute billing, termination fees, etc. to get a true idea on cost
  • Egress fees - Where is your data flowing? What amount of data can you transfer in and out of the cloud vendor's servers without paying?
  • Directory services - Do you want to leverage your in-house Active Directory? Do you have a corporate Identity Provider for MFA? Are they tied into Azure AD?
  • Load balancing - What techniques are used by the vendor to distribute network traffic to minimize downtime?
  • GPU intensive instances - How robust are the instances? This is especially important if users require graphics heavy workloads
  • Supported operating systems - Do you have macOS users? AWS is the go-to. Do you need Windows 10? Your best bet may be Azure.

STEP THREE: DEFINE CLOUD WORKFLOWS THAT MINIMIZE COSTS

We've talked about the workloads you might want to move to the cloud. Now let's talk about the workflow. A workflow determines what happens when the user logs in and what happens during the life cycle of the instances that run the workload.

Choose the right instance size

A productivity application (such as Word or Excel) and a graphics-intense application (such as AutoCAD or InDesign) require vastly different compute resources. Always make sure you use the smallest instance size possible for each workload to drive down costs.

Use the appropriate cloud

Remember that you are not limited to a single cloud! Investigate all of the "Big 3" public cloud offerings and, if necessary, mix and match to more accurately meet the needs of your environment.

For example, research reserved instances in AWS, or other cost-savings mechanisms when you pay for resources up front. Or compare the Microsoft Azure and AWS GPU-enabled instances to determine which renders the greatest performance for your graphics-intense applications.

Terminate idle instances

Define workflows that keep the instances around and running for the smallest amount of time. If the resource is a user's persistent desktop, maybe you power it off when the user logs off. If the instance hosts a shared application, maybe you terminate the instance as soon as the user is done and spin up additional instances from an image with that application, but only when demand increases.

Controlling the lifespan of the instance is key to keeping compute costs in check. (These workflows can easily be created using Leostream to optimize resource usage).

Reduce VPN usage

As you build your infrastructure, we recommend reducing VPN connections as much as possible. There is a wide range in pricing, but the costs can add up quickly for a fast and reliable VPN connection.

Browser-based gateways provide a seamless VPN alternative for connecting end-users to resources.

Be mindful of data transfer charges

Most clouds don't charge for data transfer within the same Availability Zone, but if you are building a hybrid cloud that spans multiple regions, keep data transfer fees in mind and try to architect to minimize data transfer between regions or from the cloud to the internet.

STEP FOUR: SELECT DISPLAY PROTOCOLS AND CLIENT DEVICES

The humble remote display protocol is the most frequently overlooked component of a virtualized or hosted resource environment. That's because in a traditional virtualization stack, the display protocol is built right in. When you build a hybrid cloud environment, you need to consider which protocol or protocols will be most appropriate for each use case.

Here is what to consider when selecting a protocol:

Performance

Ultimately, the only measure of your hybrid cloud environment the end user is truly concerned with is performance. At your disposal, you have two types of display protocols - commodity, such as RDP and VNC, and high-performance, such as Teradici PCoIP, HP ZCentral Remote Boost, and Mechdyne TGX.

Client devices

If your protocol requires a client, make sure it installs on your users' chosen devices!

Printing and USB redirection

Managing peripherals is often forgotten, but an important feature for ensuring continuity of your users' desktop experience.

Clientless solutions

If your users preferred devices won't support a display protocol client, such as tablets and smartphones, then consider an HTML5-based solution.

STEP FIVE: TIE IT ALL TOGETHER WITH A CONNECTION MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

Your connection management platform is the key ingredient for making all these pieces come together into one cohesive hybrid cloud solution.

At a minimum, ensure that your connection manager can:

  • Work across the on-premises and cloud platforms you've chosen to use.

If you need to log into different tools to manage your different environments, and if your users need to remember different URLs to access everything, your hybrid cloud is doomed to fail.

  • Automate capacity and power state across all hosting platforms
  • Control user access by connecting users to the correct resource, even adapting to changes in login location - such as inside your network vs. at a coffee shop
  • Support all the display protocols you've decided to use, all while providing audit- level tracking, so you always know exactly who is using what, from where, and for how long
  • Facilitate security initiatives around access control and supports your MFA and authentication providers

SUMMARY

A hybrid cloud reaps all the benefits of the public cloud - flexibility, scalability, easy remote access, pay- for-what-you-use model, while keeping what's already working intact. That being said, building a hybrid cloud takes research, careful planning, and the right technology. Following the step-by-step instructions outlined in this guide and selecting the right technologies will help to ensure the success of your hybrid cloud deployment.

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ABOUT KAREN GONDOLY

Karen Gondoly 

Karen Gondoly is CEO of Leostream Corporation. Karen joined Leostream from The MathWorks, Inc., a technical software company where she was a developer for the Control System Toolbox before specializing in usability. Her technical background includes roles as a software developer, GUI designer, technical writer, and usability specialist. Karen holds bachelor and master of science degrees in aeronautical/astronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ABOUT LEOSTREAM

Leostream provides the critical remote desktop connection management technology required for organizations to build successful large-scale remote access solutions. The Leostream Platform

embodies two decades of research and development in supporting customers with hosted desktop environments, including VDI, hybrid cloud, and high-performance display protocols. The Leostream Platform has proven to be one of the world's most robust desktop connection management platforms with a remote access feature that allows today's enterprises to choose the best-of-breed components to satisfy their complex security, cost, and flexibility needs.

Published Monday, April 04, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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