What’s Next for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
By Yury Magalif, Chief Architect Managed Services Cloud Computing, CDI
VMware vExpert Yury Magalif, Practice Manager for End-User Computing (EUC) and Virtualization at CDI, offers insight on the future of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Topics include virtualized computing hardware, software, equipment, service optimization, monitoring, provisioning, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), mobile device management (MDM), and other implementation details. He cleverly advises, “Everyone is Entitled to my Opinion on the Future of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).”
Greetings CIOs, IT Managers, VM-ers, Cisco-ites, Microsoftians, and all other End-Users out there… Yury here. Yury Magalif. Inviting you now to take another virtual trip with me to the cloud, or at least to your data center. As Practice Manager at CDI, your company is depending on my team of seven (plus or minus a consultant or two) to manage the implementation of virtualized computing including hardware, software, equipment, service optimization, monitoring, provisioning, etc. And you thought we were sitting behind the helpdesk and concerned only with front-end connectivity. Haha (still laughing) that’s a good one!
VDI: Our Journey Begins Here
Allow me to paint a simple picture and add a splash of math to illustrate why your CIO expects so much from me and my team. Your company posted double-digit revenue growth for three years running and somehow, now, in Q2 of year four, finds itself in a long fourth down and 20 situation. (What? You don’t understand American football analogies? Okay, in the international language of auto-racing, we are 20 laps behind and just lost a wheel.) One thousand employees need new laptops, docking stations, flat panel displays, and related hardware. Complicating the matter are annual software licensing fees for a group of 200 but with only five simultaneous concurrent users worldwide. At $1,500 per user times 1,000, plus the $100 fee, your CIO has to decide how it will explain to the board that it plans to spend another 1.5 million dollars on IT just after Q1 closed down 40 percent and Q2 is looking to be even worse.
Instead of going for it and risking field position, the CIO decides to implement a new 3-year Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) strategy at a total lower cost. No one ever really likes to punt and with virtual desktops, BYOD mobile management, and security solutions, you don’t have to. Your staff may decide to keep using their existing PCs for another few years. We’re in the back-end blocking, and we have players downfield running their routes, and that means there you are gliding straight up the middle; forget the first down – you just scored.
The example given could have depicted a fully-funded budget. It makes no difference, as virtualization of computing resources is a smart play in any economic climate. Instead of IT spending on laptops and desktops, you are allocating funds to strengthen the computing capabilities of your VDI.
VDI: Don’t Forget to Pack a Toothbrush
We can manage all of the following VDI details for you:
- Virtual Desktops
- Laptops (physical or virtual/remote options)
- Mobile Device Management
- Thin Clients
- Other Hardware
- Remote Access/VPNs
We’ll take care of your virtual infrastructure, A to Z, soup to nuts; however, you can bring your own toothbrush. We can integrate and test solutions that include pieces from EMC, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, and others. I am happy to say we are in the post-sales phase, so we are able to focus on our service to you in an atmosphere that is free of any sales pressure. However, my team admits to being obsessed with performance. We want your virtual desktop computing session to be equal if not better than traditional physical hardware.
As an IT Manager, you may not have enough staff with specific skills or experience to design a virtualization roadmap and build-out virtual desktops. For over 20 years, CDI has been building exactly the expertise you want to leverage and we want you to put my team to work on your virtualization strategy.
VDI Performance on the Rise
In recent years, network performance has improved significantly. I remember previous clients were not impressed with network speeds when accessing remote virtual desktops from their homes, but that has largely changed today. Another improvement worth mentioning has to do with the graphics-processing unit (GPU) in PCs. In the past, your virtual desktop experience sometimes suffered when smooth graphics or videos were expected to mirror the performance seen on PCs with their separate dedicated GPUs. When a video or visually complex window appeared in Microsoft Windows, it didn’t always transition smoothly on the virtual machine. Back then, there were no dedicated graphics cards for virtual machines. Today, we have dedicated GPU chips for optimum virtual desktop emulation.
VDI: BYOD and MDM
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend today also has some implications for your virtualization strategy. Visitors, colleagues, and staff want to bring their iPads to work and connect it to the network. Maybe little Tommy wants to play games on his Android device (can we admit that it’s a toy?) over the nearest access point to the corporate guest Wi-Fi network and unknowingly introduces a virus. Be careful: the rogue device may be your own! A new mini-industry is popping up around Mobile Device Management (MDM) that promises to help us protect and manage the network in these scenarios.
BYOD also raises issues around applications and access to data. While securing company data from personal data sounds good, the practical tendency is to expect access to both. Users want to open an application and access data wherever, whenever. However, a security policy might cut them off once they disconnect from the company network. The goal is to allow connectivity and serve up applications but also to avoid negatively impacting corporate data, mommy’s iPad and Tommy’s virus-infested toy.
VDI: A Look Ahead to the Future
Sometimes red-hot but always a steady player, VDI has been around for years. When prices for flash memory, solid-state drives, and GPUs decline, the trend toward virtualization grows.
In the industry we often ask ourselves, “After virtualizing data centers and PCs worldwide, what else can we make virtual?” Virtualized cell phones were a popular next bet, and with MDM solutions, the virtual mobile phone experience is plausible. Apple currently does not allow VMs, but Android OS is open source. It could support a separate virtual OS for secure work connectivity apart from personal or home use.
Another likely future scenario for VDI is in Internet-of-Things (IoT). In ten years, I expect our televisions to talk to our toasters. It’s not hard to imagine an IP-enabled coffeemaker with an app for coffee, another one for tea, and another one for water-filtration and boiling for soup mix. The hardware can provide value for years while the back-end and interface layer are updated by the hour. Maybe two years after purchase, it auto-detects that you just inserted a new larger size soup mix that requires it to adjust its warming time by 90 seconds.
We might also see a virtualized toaster that burns uploaded family photos into your morning wheat bread. We are only beginning to see the fruition of VDI and consumer trends will continue: consider Airbnb and the trend toward efficient utilization of vacation homes, or accommodations in any major city for that matter. Virtualization would empower unique personalization opportunities for the smart gadgets in any domicile. During your stay, the volume of the music system, the lighting, the genre of entertainment, the temperature of your shower water, and the in-room thermostat can all reflect my application settings, perhaps a subset of a virtual profile. And when I depart and you arrive, the settings shift to honor your preferences from your profile.
I hope you have enjoyed your travel, your brief visit, and my blog entry. Please feel free to drop in again soon.