Monitoring and Improving Employee Experience In Virtual Desktop (DaaS/VDI) Environments (Part 1)

User Experiences

A common pain point we repeatedly hear from our customers that use Desktop as a Service (DaaS)/Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments is, “We have monitoring in place for physical hosts and infrastructure, but our employees still complain a lot.” If DaaS or VDI is part of your IT environment and you lack visibility into such environments to ensure effective employee experience, read on. This blog post will help you find out how Catchpoint product offerings can help you gain complete end-to-end visibility with the closest possible representation of end user experience.  

What Is Accelerating The Adoption Of DaaS/VDI?

Several market trends are accelerating the adoption of DaaS/VDI. These include:

  1. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) may not be new, but it is rapidly gaining traction as organizations continue to shred the responsibility of managing their employees’ laptops and desktops.    
  1. Like all of us, call/contact center employees have been forced to work from home during the pandemic. Employers are increasingly providing virtual desktops for such employees to perform day-to-day activities.  
  1. For several years, highly regulated industries have already been offering virtual desktops to avoid compromising data security on employee-owned or even IT-owned laptops/desktops.  
  1. The rise in the number of organizations needing to work with contractors/external partners regularly and in high volumes. Instead of providing a laptop to every contractor/partner temporarily, it is faster and more economical to use DaaS.  
  1. VMWare and Citrix were two of the pioneer vendors in the early 2000s to offer virtual desktops under the market category VDI. The juggernaut of cloud replacing on-prem data centers has now also hit VDI. Today we find AWS (Workspaces), Azure (Virtual Desktop), Google (Virtual Desktop) all offering DaaS. The pay-as-you-go model for DaaS (over CapEx for VDI) is further helping fuel increased adoption of DaaS.  

The Differences Between DaaS and VDI

The visual below from Gartner clearly explains the basic differences between DaaS and VDI.

Figure 1: Differences between VDI and DaaS according to Gartner.

By their very nature, virtual desktop environments involve some degree of complexity. IT administrators have been managing that complexity entirely in VDI environments while DaaS service providers have been taking on more responsibility to manage some of that complexity themselves (as shown in the Gartner, Inc. visual above) while also offering the benefits of a pay-as-you-go model. As an example, the figure below shows the architecture for Amazon Workspaces.

Figure 2: Amazon workspaces architectural diagram.

While cloud providers typically manage the complexity of DaaS (note this is not the case with VDI), ensuring an effective end user experience in such environments remains the responsibility of the customer.  

What Are the Challenges To Ensuring Effective End User Experience in DaaS/VDI Environments?

There are a variety of challenges one faces when an ensuring effective end user experience in DaaS/VDI environments.  

These include:

  1. If you are launching a new DaaS/VDI service for your employees/partners/contractors, you have to constantly monitor latency and its impact on end user experience, as indicated in the Gartner visual below.
Figure 3: Latency and its impact on user experience, according to Gartner.

Amazon Workspaces provides a similar set of guidelines. The big question is, Do you have the right set of tools to monitor these best practices from an end user perspective?

  1. Ensuring quality end user experience is particularly challenging in DaaS/VDI environments due to the complexities involved in each layer of the service delivery chain. Imagine the following service delivery chain:
  • Users on purpose-built thin clients or their own devices (device metrics such as CPU, memory, processes)...  
  • Connected over a network (Wi-Fi, ISP, SASE) to a...  
  • Virtual desktop running on another physical device (again device metrics such as CPU, memory, processes) which...  
  • Connects to either SaaS applications or applications running inside an on-prem or cloud data center (network and app monitoring).

The common monitoring vendors typically provide monitoring into isolated layers within this service chain with no end-to-end perspective in one place tying all the pieces together.

  1. If you are migrating from VDI to DaaS, you may have to ensure similar or better performance upon migration for your end users.

At Catchpoint, while working with IT teams of medium and large enterprise customers, we have learned that DaaS providers recommend a set of best practices for enabling effective end user experience, including optimal latencies in DaaS environments. However, they typically do not offer any effective tools to ensure optimal end user experience.  

You need to be certain that the tools you are using are capable of providing the closest representation possible of end user experience - Catchpoint has a robust set of tools with exactly that end user perspective and our capabilities are unparalleled in the industry.

Gain End-To-End Visibility Into the Service Delivery Chain with Catchpoint

Here are the key reasons we believe that Catchpoint, is uniquely positioned to help our customers:

  1. Our approach to monitoring is always centered around the end user perspective - which matters the most. Imagine the consequences of monitoring experience from only public cloud locations while your employees/partners/customers are in their homes or offices around the globe! To get the closest representation on end user experience, one needs to monitor from the devices end users are on.
  2. We offer several different vantage points. This is particularly advantageous in DaaS/VDI environments. You can place our Endpoint on employee devices and virtual desktops, Enterprise nodes inside the DaaS/VDI environment, and leverage our unparalleled number of backbone nodes for extensive coverage for wherever your services are located.
  3. We provide end-to-end visibility into the service delivery chain – whether it’s the CPU, memory metrics on employee devices or virtual desktops; network latency for any of the network paths involved; or critical applications running on the virtual desktop.
  4. Our approach to monitoring is comprehensive – both proactive and reactive whereby we analyze real user traffic and proactively test for 24/7 performance and connectivity problems.
Figure 4: End-to-end visibility into DaaS environments.

Figure 4 illustrates the different solutions that Catchpoint offers and how each of these works together to provide complete visibility into the service delivery chain. In the second part of this blog post on monitoring DaaS/VDI, we explain how you can monitor such environments with a real example of implementing and using Catchpoint solutions to improve the digital employee experience.

Learn more about monitoring employee experience and improving productivity in a remote/hybrid workspace, download our ebook on employee experience monitoring.

This blog post was co-authored by Shreedhar Shirgurkar and Zachary Henderson
Published on
Jul 08, 2021
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