“It’s the time of the VDI” an ongoing mantra for the IT industry for a good few years now, but has it ever really managed to deliver the promise? A loaded question, and one sure to generate lots of discussion. Many businesses just didn’t feel comfortable with the technology as it was, or the cost it incurred. However, as time has moved on, significant changes in the IT industry could mean it finally is the right time for many businesses to reap the rewards of VDI.
Whether it’s the SMB space or Enterprise, it would be fair to say that our computing has been more and more influenced by consumer style, usage and services in recent time, and that has driven new ways of thinking and technology adoption.
So what stopped the VDI adoption?
There were a number of key factors that really stunted the adoption of Virtual Desktops.
Cost – It could be really expensive, I mean really expensive! Many believed back in the original VDI buzz days that it would save lots of money. In truth it didn’t, the costs were simply moved into the Datacentre. The biggest chunks of money were laid out for expensive storage, capable of providing the IOP capability and the other hit being licensing.
Complexity – 32 bit to 64 bit conversions, the first foray in to streaming and packaging applications, it was all destined to make it complex, and with complexity came cost, the projects nemesis.
Capability – Not really the VDI technologies fault, but let’s face it, home broadband and WAN networks just weren’t up to the job when it was first done, and projects paid the price for unreliable or inconsistent results.
User Experience – This one seemed to be woefully underestimated with original VDI solutions. The world of End User Computing is very much reliant on the End User accepting what you are doing, the user population can make or break a VDI Project no matter how good the technology or cost reduction.
So fast forward to today, why does VDI make more sense these days?
Cost – SSD has reduced the storage requirement massively, utilising local flash storage or flash based SAN rather than using spindles to drive I/O means that the overall cost per desktop can be reduced. Couple that with reductions in hardware costs and improved virtualisation support, and the cost barrier starts to break down.
Complexity – This basically comes down to platform and technology maturity. Streaming and packaging are now mainstream, and 64 bit is no longer new ground. Couple that with technologies being user feature rich, proven migration paths and the complexity and fear factor have been reduced considerably.
Capability – Adaptive Protocols, graphic offload, VOIP support, and fibre broadband, the stuff that home working dreams are made of. That is some serious improvements in a few years and as the attitude towards home working and hot-desking has changed, this has allowed the VDI model to start to make more sense.
User Experience – Faster logon times, responsive performance, and worker agility. Providing a great user experience, and be able to access that experience from almost anywhere. No don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it can solve all use cases, but for the first time, it’s becoming a reality that a blended approach is much more common than one or the other, with VDI usually playing the larger role.
OK ! I get it things have moved on, so what does that mean to me?
Unfortunately this means breaking out the oft used buzzwords, but bear with me as they are actually relevant these days.
Agility & Portability – I know, buzzwords, but it really does allow this. Just as web versions of applications have become prevalent, so too has the ability to connect to a corporate desktop almost anywhere
Cost Reduction – A prickly one, but in my experience the reduction doesn’t come from a like for like comparison. It comes from being able to reduce the desktop amounts as you find a number of desktops are unused, and you can reduce the concurrency number. Cooling, Power and reduced IT costs all play a part.
DR & BC – Problems with your building, send everyone home and they can work from there. This is becoming a common argument for VDI, as it no longer requires DR premises, or companies, especially if the VDI is already in a CoLo.
Reduced Management – A simple thin client on the desktop all managed from a single interface. With gold images, and Streaming applications the management of an estate reduces and it can be significant. I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but being able to take a large estate of 1000s of seats and reduce that to a gold image, which is automatically deployed when a user first logs on, think how much simpler new starters or fault calls would be.
Well there is a few of my arguments for VDI, but I know what you are thinking “where is your proof!” and you would be right, I haven’t given any. Over the next few blog posts I will drill in to a few of the disruptive technologies that are happening in VDI, and show how things are changing. I will hopefully be able to demonstrate different ways of working utilising VDI while always keeping my useful cynical side focused on the argument, “why would I do it that way!”
Thanks for reading