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This article is part of our Essential Guide: Decisions, decisions: VDI storage considerations and choices

Are there limits to VDI project size from a management standpoint?

Brian Madden discusses possible limits to desktop virtualization and how you should decide whether to use a provider or do it on your own.

On the high end, I say the sky is the limit. On the low end, I probably wouldn't try and build this myself unless...

you have 20 or 30 users. If your virtual desktop infrastructure project numbers are lower than that, don't do it yourself because there are vendors who can do it for you in 10 minutes -- and off you go.

If you just have a few users that you want to use virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), I wouldn't even try to build that VDI myself. I would just go to a VDI provider -- for example,  Amazon Web Services has VDI now. It's called Amazon WorkSpaces.

Microsoft has an Azure offering. All the big telecommunications companies have an offering. You can buy a host of desktops anywhere; pop in your credit card and for something like 35 bucks a month you're using a full VDI desktop.

And if I had 10 or 20 users, I'd just pay the monthly fee to Amazon or one of the others and let them do it because you're up and running in around 20 minutes. Once you get more than that maybe you start to think, "OK, maybe I should build it myself."

But what's interesting is that on the super high end, there are a lot of storage appliances, a lot of storage vendors, that sell appliances capable of scaling to something like 3,000 VDI sessions for storage. It's funny, because if you want to have 10 users, it's still the same appliance they offer to 3,000 users. And appliances are several hundred thousand dollars. You're not buying this unless your VDI numbers are really high.

But there are plenty of VDI environments in the world that are 10, 15 or 20,000 users -- and they're fine. So, I feel like there's no real upper limit to what the size of your VDI project could be.

This was last published in November 2014

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The cost scales are non-linear for hardware but relentless for licensing. There must be a sweet spot where all costs considered, VDI is cost-effective. That certainly is above desktops.
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