Accelerating Virtual Desktop Adoption with Fast, Automated Access

By David Ting (Profile)
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Friday, May 13th 2011
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Desktop virtualization is becoming more and more popular in a variety of industries. Many organizations are turning to virtual desktops to meet specific regulatory or time-critical needs. For example, deploying virtual desktops makes the migration to Windows 7 much simpler, by allowing administrators to configure and push virtual desktops to users, without worrying about client-side hardware requirements. Additionally, government organizations are increasingly looking to virtual desktops to help them comply with Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) mandates.

For IT organizations, desktop virtualization delivers many compelling benefits, including:

  • Easier provisioning/management of clients and applications
  • Centralized security and availability management
  • Reduced risk of data loss, as data does not reside on mobile clients
  • Reduced client procurement and support costs, with flexible thin clients
  • Allows the same desktop experience to be delivered regardless of the endpoint device

For any technology to be successful in the long term, it needs broad acceptance by the user community.  In today's consumer-driven technology environment, IT has difficulty unilaterally imposing technologies on the workforce if those technologies do not actually improve the user's experience. To ensure the success of virtual desktop initiatives, IT organizations must consider the technology from the user's perspective and look for ways to streamline and improve user workflow.

One of the easiest ways to enhance user experience is by automating access to applications and data using Single Sign-On (SSO) and authentication management. By solving the problems around authentication, both to the virtual desktop and all of the applications it contains, IT organizations can make the virtualized environment more attractive and easier to access for the users, encouraging a more rapid and successful deployment.

Provide Fast, Seamless Access with Single Sign-On

When you roll out virtual desktops to users, you have to solve the 'last mile' problem of provisioning users with virtual desktops – how will they access the desktop? If you give the user another login for the virtual desktop, you are simply adding to the numbers of accounts and logins they need to manage. This creates yet one more barrier between the user and their applications. The workflow to access an application now becomes something like the following:

  1. Log into the client
  2. Log into the desktop broker
  3. Select the virtual desktop
  4. Log into the virtual desktop
  5. Retrieve the desired application
  6. Log into the application itself
  7. Repeat for each application

This process can be a real barrier in roaming environments, where users move between different workstations throughout the day, like in a hospital for example.

You can use  virtual desktop deployment to solve authentication headaches by providing users with SSO to the virtual desktop as well as the applications it contains.

When the user moves to the virtual desktop, they only want to remember and perform one login – just as they do in a traditional workstation. When they launch applications from the desktop, the SSO solution automatically signs them in without the need to remember or type in any login credentials.  By eliminating the constant and error prone task of managing different application logins, SSO provides an instant and very visible benefit for users in accomplishing their tasks. Manually logging into an application is rarely part of a job description.