Poor mans VDI...

Don't laugh!  I know about VIEW and ZenDesktop and use both, but I've been asked!  :)

I have a company with 100 users, give or take, and they want to move their stuff into a COLO and go to a VDI environment using zero clients at the office while letting the virtual desktops live in the cloud.  I've talked to them about VIEW and Citrix and we have discussed the cost.  Once the owners were released from the hospital, we met and talked some more.

I have an idea and I want peeps on here to talk it up or shoot it down and give me some feedback.

My thought is to put in a couple of RRA servers at the COLO and build one or two virtual desktops to spec, convert them to templates and then spin up my needed VMs from the template, one at a time.  We actually have two or three techs who could help so it wouldn't be horrible.  

In the zero clients, we just specify the remote gateway and the VM assigned to that user and let them RDP straight to the desktop assigned to them.

All of this would be supported in the back by 5 ESX hosts and SSD storage to handle the IOPS so I don't expect the "speed" of the VMs to be a problem.  We have 1gig from the office to the internet already so I don't expect bandwidth to be a problem.  Even the usage in the building is mostly email and internet.  The "serious computing" - that's the Solidworks CAD and the media creation - would still be done on local workstations in the building.  Those hitting the VDI would be low bandwidth users, support staff, etc.

So, instead of buying VIEW and/or Citrix ZenDesktop, how about it?  Do you think RRA and remote gateway would work ok for this solution or am I stone cold nuts?

Now, I realize a lot of this is opinion, so I'll split the points between the peeps who answer.  Extra points to those who DO NOT start off by saying I'm nuts.

:)

Thanks

Cliff
crp0499CEOAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I know clients that do this remember that VDI = a propriety protocol like VMware Blast or PCoIP to ensure a good user experience or Citrix ICA or HDX.

RDP depends on your user base and what applications they are using with RDP.

And then there is the missing Management of a VDI solution

If you have staff that have the time to run around watering and feeding this idea that’s your business!!!

All Clients we’ve seen do this fruit and nut idea have failed!

And rolled out Horizon View if indeed a VDI solution is required some went to just RDS and Server Based Computing.

No need for VMs!!!?

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Bryant SchaperCommented:
You may consider just a RDS server farm, running on Windows Server as well, cheaper than VDI, we use it for 250 task workers in a similar setup and with much less bandwidth
crp0499CEOAuthor Commented:
I would say that with the exception of the CAD and HD multimedia people, all the rest just need internet, access to gmail, an internal web portal, and printing.

Again, I plan on leaving the big end users on local machines in the building. There's no way I would try and make those guys live on a vm.

We are doing this for ten test users and so far, so good.  It doesn't seem beyond possible to scale it up for 100 users. I can spin up a vm from template in a couple of minutes. Everything activated using kms and we use WSUS for patching.

My big fear is a 1gig internet connection is way different than a 1gig LAN connection so I'm concerned about 100 people using RDP over that pipe.
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crp0499CEOAuthor Commented:
Bryant, I'm not sure I can convince them to go to RDS, yet. The owners are old school and it will take a lot to make that jump.
David Johnson, CDRetiredCommented:
I have a company with 100 users, give or take, and they want to move their stuff into a COLO and go to a VDI environment using zero clients at the office while letting the virtual desktops live in the cloud.  I've talked to them about VIEW and Citrix and we have discussed the cost.  Once the owners were released from the hospital, we met and talked some more.
....
I'm not sure I can convince them to go to RDS, yet. The owners are old school and it will take a lot to make that jump.

This does not compute.  RDS has several flavors
Session Based (cheapest, least configurable, small footprint
Session Based with user profile disks
Pooled Virtual Machines with or without UPD
Assigned Virtual Machine (most configurable, most resources and highest cost)
crp0499CEOAuthor Commented:
I mentioned that we would be using remote gateway in the RDS settings and pointing them to an assigned VM.  Yes, most configuration and most resources, but that work can be done in a day since I've done it a few million times.  Getting VIEW or ZenDesktop going takes forever and a day.  VIEW takes the day and Citrix takes forever!  :)  Just my unbiased opinion there.  

I was literally thinking of just spinning up 100 VMs from template and assigning one to each user and configuring zero clients for each VM, handing them out and letting them connect to their assigned VM.  I was just mulling over if I would regret this for the rest of my life.  Literally, I've done this for 20 to 25 users over LAN, but never tried it from an office to a COLO for 100 people.

I could go ESX or Windows datacenter...I have either option.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
rather than jumping in, I would PILOT an RDS server, if these users are low usage....

whether it's a virtual machine or server based computing they are not really going to know, and why do they need s desktop!

Ultimately you choice, if you want to waste your time spinning up VMs, I can think of far more interesting times to do with my time and other VMware Administrator time.
Mike SchrockIT Operations ManagerCommented:
What is your latency to the COLO? As mentioned before, internet traffic vs LAN traffic is very different. If there is high ping the users might get uppity.
For which why is best, could it work, will it work, might it work? I have done an RDS farm for 1400ish users, been ok, moved to Citrix and it was also ok (little easier management which was nice) as Andrew has mentioned, spending time on administering the environment might get a bit tedious, if the personnel bandwidth is there and the price is right, then there is the answer.
Bryant SchaperCommented:
You may also do a cost analysis
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