Will the Cloud Ride to VDI's Rescue?

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Twelve Virtualization Myths Debunked

Global Knowledge takes on some of the most common myths about virtualization.

The top vendors will never admit it, but desktop virtualization is stuck in neutral. Yes, it's gained enough seats to generate a reasonable revenue stream, and projected deployments suggest a viable market over the near term at least. But it has so far failed to capture the imagination of the IT industry at large, which views it as an interesting technology but suitable to a limited application set.

That's why hopes are riding high that the cloud will come to the rescue. By combining cloud-based virtualization and desktop as a service, the hope is that desktop images will become as fungible as everything else on the cloud, ushering in full virtualized desktop architectures without the steep upfront costs and operational complexity that traditional data center architectures require.

The cloud/VDI combination has proven to be mighty tempting fruit to a number of large infrastructure concerns. The latest is Time Warner, which just announced new desktop as a service (DaaS) offerings from its NaviSite subsidiary using the Desktone cloud platform. The move is seen as an attempt to gain parity with Verizon, CenturyLink and others who have unveiled a string of cloud initiatives of late aimed at enterprises and consumers. Desktone has the advantage of providing a desktop-independent platform equally comfortable with Windows, Linux and Apple OS X.

Indeed, that ability to transcend desktop platforms while allowing enterprises to skip the deployment of expensive server and storage infrastructure is the main reason why the cloud will succeed where other DVI platforms have failed, according to Desktone VP of Marketing David Grant. As he explained to ITBE a few weeks ago, most organizations are pleasantly surprised when they realize that only the desktop image is sourced from the cloud - all data and applications can remain in-house if they choose. It also makes it easier for enterprises to accommodate tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices because the images can be easily delivered to a variety of client platforms.

Even traditional thin-client developers have warmed to the flexibility of the cloud. Wyse Technology, for example, recently issued several key updates to its mobile cloud application portfolio aimed at multi-device management. The package includes the PocketCloud Explore for iOS and Android that provide a unified view of all devices, something the company calls the "personal cloud." The system works closely with the PocketCloud Remote Desktop system to enable a wide range of sharing and collaboration features across mobile and stationary client devices.

From a cost perspective, the notion of having all the flexibility of the cloud for desktop services while leaving someone else to deal with the infrastructure issues is very appealing. Despite all the hype, however, the cloud is still largely unproven in real-world environments.

It's probably a safe bet that most enterprises will be content to utilize the cloud for backup and other low-level applications for a while longer while they test its ability to handle higher-level stuff. But once a level of trust has been gained, expect to see the floodgates open wide for desktops, mission-critical apps and a range of functions that have not even been defined yet.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 1, 2012 2:03 PM resrpt resrpt  says:

Wasn't this around for ages? Hosting providers offering hosted VDI? How that is different from this supposedly cloud based VDI? In hosting VDI too, the buyers were not investing in storage, servers, etc. and were charged monthly bill. Not sure how this cloud VDI is going to be different, given what I read in this article. The concept of cloud here appears to be shifting the ownership and headache of investing into VDI set-up to the vendor, but that was anyways happening since a long time. Doesn't this sound like typical cloud washing, where every old-school hosted offering is renamed as "cloud," reminding of the dot-com era where everything had a com associated with it? Hope this is not the beginning of another tech bubble.


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