VDI Network Latency

Benjamin Franklin so famously quoted, that in this world “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” While this may be true, there are also certainties within technology, more specifically the digital computing space. If you are accessing a remote session albeit a desktop, server, or app across a network there will be a varying amount of latency. The truth is no one likes latency, but it cannot be avoided if you are using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to get work done.
Network latency, as defined by Amazon here, is “the delay in network communication” and “the time that data takes to transfer across the network.”

When using a virtual desktop for basic real-time operations like video conferencing or document editing you can usually spot network latency becoming an issue fairly quickly. You will experience a delay in keyboard typing or the video can become choppy and unbearable to watch.
End users will often complain that their VDI Desktop is slow, stuttering, or unusable. Knowing where to start troubleshooting for an Admin can sometimes be tricky. Using tools like Amazon’s Workspaces Connection Health Check here or Azure’s Azure Virtual Desktop Experience Estimator here is a quick and easy way to know what your Round Trip Time (RTT) is in milliseconds to the virtual desktop infrastructure. Typically under 100ms is recommended for a strong connection. If you are seeing delays up to 300ms, users may begin to notice the delay in keyboard strokes, mouse movement is no longer smooth and you will start to see issues in video quality. Anything over 300ms is not recommended to maintain a stable VDI connection and users will begin to complain if trying to work from it.

The shift to DaaS (Desktop as a Service) or Cloud-backed virtual desktops hasn’t improved this issue of VDI Network latency. The machines you are connecting to might be hosted on more secure infrastructure and be easier to manage but you still have many hops or routers to traverse in order to connect. If improperly configured, there might actually be higher latency when migrating to DaaS based on your proximity to the physical data center.

Improving VDI Network Latency

There are some steps a user can take as well to improve their VDI Network Latency. While an end-user has zero control of where packets flow after leaving their home for a VDI connection, many times the home WiFi connection can be improved upon. Users can try to improve their connection by starting with a few simple tips.

For some users, especially those that may be less tech-savvy, exposing them to doing all of these things may be stressful. The burden is shifted to the user to solve the problem and increases their frustration while reducing their productivity in trying to troubleshoot.

And even with the aforementioned workarounds, you might still see minimal improvements in your connection and response time gathered earlier. This is when IT admins will need to further investigate and see what infrastructure changes may be required to allow more connections, increase the bandwidth, or change how connections are being tunneled.

The staffing to help manage and monitor this infrastructure for VDI also comes at a hefty cost to the organization. Depending on the size of the environment there can easily be 3-5 dedicated Engineers hired to manage the backend infrastructure, networking components, operating system updates, and help desk troubleshooting. With the staff also comes the tools needed to monitor issues like latency, hardware failures, problematic servers, and Windows patches. These tools along with the skilled individuals and the licensing costs required from a given vendor will leave most companies in sticker shock. And even then, this can’t guarantee a certain remote connection will not be plagued by further network latency issues.

VDI Alternatives

While VDI was a great option when first introduced, the cost, complexity, and conundrum of network latency among other issues are far too great. Secure BYO-PC is a different modern approach to solving the issue of allowing secure access to company apps. Being able to control corporate apps without the remoting of VDI allows users instant local access. They can securely open a business app on their personal machine without going over an encrypted internet connection to a server hosted somewhere across the country. It’s a faster connection to get established and you no longer have to worry about it becoming sluggish or degraded when the home network becomes saturated with other devices streaming games or videos.

Venn is the first purpose-built patented technology for Secure BYO-PC. Venn secures remote work on any unmanaged or BYOD computer with a radically simplified and less costly solution than virtual desktops or having to lock down every PC. Similar to an MDM solution but for laptops – work lives in a company-controlled Secure Enclave installed on the user’s PC or Mac, where business activity is isolated and protected from any personal use on the same computer. Over 700 organizations, including Fidelity, Guardian, and Voya, trust Venn to meet FINRA, SEC, NAIC, and SOC 2 standards.

Learn more at venn.com