Healthcare VDI ties strongly to high-performing storage

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Crib notes on virtual desktop infrastructure in healthcare

This column is as much for me as it is for you.

While I find the concept for virtual desktop infrastructure easy enough to understand -- using healthcare VDI helps clinicians more easily use various devices to access desktop apps -- the technologies involved can be confusing for me. Maybe it's tricky for you, too.

So here's a cheat sheet of terms that come up when discussing VDI setups. It's a reminder for me and also serves as the opening act for this handbook about healthcare VDI storage strategies:

VDI: This technology allows an organization to host a desktop OS on a central server. A desktop image is delivered throughout the network to various end-user PCs and mobile devices.

Nonpersistent VDI: This approach gives all end-point users the same generic desktop image when they use their computer or device. Personal changes to the desktop are not saved, which means it takes less money and storage to run nonpersistent setups.

Persistent VDI: By contract, this approach allows VDI users to customize their desktops images and save those settings. Persistent systems require more storage to save user data and apps.

Hyper-converged infrastructure: Hyper-convergence handles integrated technologies as a single system that can scale through by adding or taking away nodes.  It is well-suited for VDI.

Flash storage: Flash gives users access to data while consuming less power and cooling compared with spinning storage drives. Flash is another technology that works well with VDI.

Why is storage a headache in VDI? It often doesn't start out that way, but instead creeps up on hospitals and other healthcare sites.

Storage systems need to provide enough space to accommodate VDI components, and in turn the storage performance must be strong. However, over time, virtual desktops may become more popular with users, which taxes the infrastructure. When that happens, storage technology might not be able to keep up with increased demand.

Healthcare VDI adoption is increasing, so IT managers must confront storage-related and other challenges. Read on for further explanation and advice on meeting those concerns.