Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is the great buzz term of the last few years but still no single company has stepped up to rescue us from the marketing hype, budget-breaking expense and lackluster performance surrounding VDI. The problem? "Traditional" VDI just doesn't work on so many levels. The private clouds required to support massive VDI infrastructures are too expensive. There is an answer to the expense and there is relief from VDI's other unfilled promises. The Cloud. That's right, The Cloud. The Public Cloud.
Before you scoff, hear me out.
For Enterprises, traditional desktop computing is almost extinct. Most workers now carry laptop computers to and from their desks--those that still have desks, that is. Traditional desktop computing is too expensive to maintain. It requires desktop support staff, hardware technicians, a stock of spare parts and a huge amount of unnecessary financial overhead.
About four years ago, there came a promise from virtualization vendors that stated how VDI was here to save the day. That day still hasn't arrived. Early adopters of VDI found that it is an extremely expensive endeavor--far more expensive, in fact, than traditional desktop computing.
Why is VDI so expensive?
First, you have the virtualization software licensing expense. And, if you say that there's free virtualization software available, go for it. If you can manage a huge VDI infrastructure with the free stuff, be my guest. As for the real world, we need good management software.
Second, the cost outlay for server hardware is tremendous. Server hardware is more expensive than desktop hardware. And, how many desktop systems can you put on those expensive servers? You'll find that VDI's promises fail you there too. The desktop density is disappointing.
Third, you'll have to purchase hundreds of terabytes of storage for all those desktop systems. At 50GB+ per C: drive, that's a lot of space. But, where will your applications go? Oh, yes, that's right, a D: drive. How does another 50GB+ per system sound to you?
And, that storage will have to be RAID 5 or RAID 10 or some RAID number, so you can multiply the number of disks you need to fit your scenario.
Fourth, you'll have to upgrade your network because a 100MB switched network just won't do it. The performance will suck the enthusiasm right out of your user's tiny little hearts. And, don't forget the need for additional security for those incoming connections to your network. So, there's a few more bucks for better border routers, VPN appliances and so on. You've probably already thought of that, though.
Fifth, you'll either need to have support staff touch every existing desktop or laptop system to reimage it, to set it up with remote desktop software or to replace it with thin client hardware. Too bad you can't get rid of those pesky desktop nerds and their salaries. And, darn it, you can't even offshore that work to save money on labor.
Traditional do-it-yourself VDI is sounding better and better, isn't it?
Sixth, you'll need to train your staff to manage, I mean centrally manage, those desktops. And, they'll have to learn about virtualization too. But, training is cheap, so that isn't a problem. Sarcasm detected.
Finally, you'll need to keep two very expensive network engineers handy to maintain your security and to support those fancy routers and VPN appliances you had to buy to support your awesome new VDI.
So, how can VDI be cost-effective? It can't.
The alternative is to leverage The Public Cloud for your virtual desktops.
How does no huge up front cash outlay sound to you?
It's possible with the only cloud-based VDI solution: Desktone. Since I attended VMworld 2008, I've searched for a usable, portable, secure and cost-effective VDI solution. It wasn't until last month that I found one in Desktone. I had pretty much given up on VDI becoming a reality before web-based desktops become the norm.
Desktone's solution, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is their own. They aren't piggybacking on Amazon or anyone else's solution, they give you full management capability for your virtual machines, and they allow you to select your connection protocol: RDP, RGS and HDX.
The best part is that you can start using a virtual desktop infrastructure immediately and with no cash outlay. Your desktop is securely stored in their cloud, is accessible 24x7x365, and can be accessed from any standard or mobile device, including iPhone and iPad.
If you're thinking of migrating to Windows 7, think about migrating to The Cloud on the same trip. Forgo the required hardware and software upgrades, the hassle, the huge deployment plan and the labor costs to put the whole thing together. Desktone offers a seven day free trial of their Windows 7 desktop but if you're interested in trying out their solution on your iPad, it'll cost you $11.99 for the DaaS app.
Companies that want true agility, mobility, device independence and access from anywhere all at a low cost (as little as $1/day), Desktone's solution is a good one. Bypass your DIY VDI for some real lowered TCO and high ROI. Now, there's some marketing buzz for you.
What do you think of traditional desktop computing vs. traditional VDI vs. Cloud-based VDI? Where will you put your desktops?