01 - Virtualization of jobs. What is it and what to eat with

    As we promised in the announcement post , we are opening a series of articles on workspace virtualization.

    The theme is “fashionable” in the West, and it has been developing for quite some time, both technologically (software) and from the point of view of hardware. If you have heard of such words as “thin clients”, “virtualization”, “bring your own device”, “remote access to data”, then most likely you have heard about any part of this immense sea of ​​job virtualization .

    And, before delving into the study of this topic, it is perhaps worthwhile to conduct a small educational program and answer the simplest questions in order to sort out the pieces of information that some readers already have in their heads. Well, and those who are already “in the subject,” we think it will also be interesting to read, what if you learn something new, or see the problem from a different angle?

    So, virtualization of the workplace. What is she like? Before answering this question, we suggest that you generally think about the very term “workspace” and such a phrase as “virtualization of the workplace”.

    From the point of view of IT, of course, the first associations will be with a working computer (and a desktop, both physical and “virtual,” which your operating system offers you). And it is the virtual desktop (systems) that is a great example of how the workplace is virtualized. On the desktop are active (current) documents, programs that you are currently working with, and multitasking OS and a convenient file system simplify your work.

    About thirty years ago, instead of Word, a typewriter could well have stood on the desktop (real)

    (and well, if it was some fashionable Selectric from IBM, with the function to delete typos).

    Instead of the “calculator” application, its “desktop” counterpart is plugged into an outlet or stand-alone. Instead of searching from Google, a thick stack of folders numbered by year (or alphabetical letter). Instead of the address book of the mail client - a telephone directory and a stack of envelopes. Instead of CAD / CAE systems - a set of drawing accessories and technical documentation. Well, what was even a little earlier ... better not to recall.

    Thanks for the picture, mikejum , he has an interesting post dedicated to accounts.

    Now all these paper and hardware systems have been moved inside computers, and the computers themselves (and even mobile phones) are comparable in price to IKEA wooden furniture. Compare the complexity of manufacturing a chair, and, say, a 45-nanometer central processing unit. But their cost is comparable, and, sometimes, differs not 10-20 times, but 2-3. And, nevertheless, the workplace still often looks far from refined promotional materials without wires, food, under equatorial conditions in a vacuum; and on our desks there are still documents, stationery, a telephone, but what else?

    Surely almost everyone on the table has not only a computer, but also other office items.

    What distinguishes the virtualization process that has been going on for the past 100 years from the process that is going on today? Scale and speed. Virtualization of the workplace today is the transfer of your computer (and all its applications) to the “virtual” state, and it is performed in the same way as in the past the “hardware” office assistants got their digital counterparts, after which they ended up in museums.

    If earlier virtualization has been trying to untie you from many specific things, nowadays virtualization of workplaces is a way to untie you from a specific hardware of a computer. Instead of a large, occupying system unit - a small box the size of a home router, or a monoblock monitor.

    Instead of a 350-watt power supply, a small and economical PSU, like laptops, does not require active cooling. Instead of separate places for accountants, engineers and managers - universal jobs, ready to work at any time. All programs, data and settings - on a server whose hardware is designed for constant loads, has a reliability factor of “four nines”, and the software correctly distributes available resources among active users. An idle engineer’s computer will not help save energy or speed up the work of his neighbor. Virtualization of workplaces (in the current reading) solves these and many other problems. Moreover, the deployment of new workstations and expansion takes minutes against hours in the "classic" case. And instead of an “inconvenient" computer, you can use your usual laptop or tablet with a docking station and an external monitor. And most importantly - inside the company, from virtually any computer, you can access your documents, files and applications in seconds, and at the same time you are not afraid of any potential data leakage, or violations of the tolerance level, or potential holes in the protection of another computer. Neither files, nor data, nor anything at least of any value is stored on the client.

    What can virtualization do today, and what technologies are used in the industry?

    By itself, “virtualization” is divided into two large categories that fundamentally differ in the way the user interacts with the server:
    • Sever-Based Computing - a server in the cloud;
    • Central-Based Computing - an office server.

    Access tools are two main technologies:
    • Workplace virtualization, also known as VDI ;
    • Remote Desktop, for short - RDP or RDS .

    Both approaches have both strengths and weaknesses, but before you talk about them, you need to understand how they differ.

    Vdi  - virtual desktop infrastructure - a hardware-software complex that works as follows: there is a server with a server OS on which “images” with client OSes are running. Some of the images have common files, some are separate, but the point is that each user has their own operating system image, and access to it (as a rule, but there are some exceptions from the rules) through thin clients. On a thin client, either a special version of Windows (with the Embedded prefix) is spinning, which provides connection to the server and work with the “OS image”. which is stored on the server, or a very small operating system, the sole purpose of which is to download hardware and basic drivers, search and connect to the server, and display the virtual desktop on your monitor.

    RDP / RDS- remode desktop protocol / remote desktop services - a hardware-software complex that works differently than VDI. The main difference is that the server OS is your working environment: all programs run directly on the server (inside its OS), and through the RDP protocol you get access to specific applications or the user desktop, but there is no “image” from your there is no personal OS on the server, the maximum is a folder with a user profile and data / documents. Access via the RPD protocol requires its support on the client side, which imposes certain restrictions on both server and user technologies.

    The advantage of VDI over RDSIt is an isolated workspace for users and used on lshaya freedom in the choice of software and hardware of both servers and user devices. Also, the VDI approach provides greater reliability and is slightly easier to configure and use.

    The RDS approach can save you money on software licenses (you do not need to purchase a separate Hypervisor, because its functionality is already built into the server OS), it requires slightly less hardware server resources, and it allows you to implement interesting software solutions for several specialists working together on one project, but imposes appropriate restrictions in view of one OS for all connected users and has disadvantages that directly stem from the merits.

    Performance with a large number of connections will be lower than that of a VDI solution, configuration and implementation will be more difficult, and the number of connections can be limited not only by the hardware capabilities of the server hardware, but also programmatically, at the OS or application level.

    We will tell in more detail about each of the approaches, about their strengths and weaknesses, with examples, pictures and a complete set of all that a good article on Habr is not without. In the meantime, back to virtualization of jobs, there is something else that needs to be mentioned before moving on.

    There is one more current trend and the type of virtualization associated with it. We are talking about BYOD (“bring your own device”, “bring your piece of hardware”) and application virtualization.

    Implementations atBYOD 's - a lot, starting with sponsoring the purchase of the hardware you want to work with (laptop, candy bar or some other device), ending with bonuses in cash if you bring your own device or work remotely, appearing in the office only when it is really necessary.

    For an employer, BYOD is advantageous in that it is not spent on the purchase of workstations, but rather gives the employee the opportunity to choose what to work on. Typically, IT departments are well aware of their needs and are able to realize them most accurately, independently choosing the necessary glands. For user BYODIt is advantageous in that it uses familiar and convenient tools, a favorite keyboard with the usual arrangement of characters and function keys, a mouse that sits in one’s hand “like a glove,” and so on.

    Application virtualization “projects” the application you need from the server to your device, transparent to you or in a separate “window” with the desktop, depending on the implementation. All data and work files can be stored simultaneously in two places, in an encrypted storage on the local device and in storag'e on the server, and access to applications and data can be obtained not only from a laptop or home computer, but also from a tablet or phone. This approach has many different implementations, differing in approaches that are responsible for the safety and security of data, authorization methods, accessibility from mobile devices and much more, it combines both a large number of advantages and significant disadvantages ( BYOD security and departments are especially worried related to confidential information).

    With the basic concepts of job virtualization, as well as with current trends in this area, we seem to be finished. Still have questions? Have something to add? Have experience with virtual machines? Want to share your impressions? We are waiting for you in the comments!

    UPD from Apr 22, 2012: We launched a special project on Habré, which we talked about in the zero post of this season. It is located at: habrahabr.ru/special/hp/commercial and there is a lot of interesting information, the promised feedback form, as well as a test for knowledge in the field of virtualization. We are waiting for you and your questions!

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