Like the Phoenix, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) continues to rise from the ashes in the hopes that it will one day take its place as a mainstream enterprise solution.
But this time, it seems that rather than trying to fit VDI into legacy data infrastructure, the technology is seen as a novel way for the enterprise to embrace emerging data needs built around hybrid architectures, the mobile workforce and the cloud.
One of the key developments of modern VDI is simplification. To date, every solution has depended on a collection of multi-vendor platforms from the client device to the management software. This is why industry watchers like Moor Insights & Strategy’s Rhett Dillingham say the new VDI Complete platform from Dell EMC and VMware is a game-changer. For the first time, we have a full hardware/software stack bundled into an easily deployable solution, which can be purchased on a monthly per-user basis rather than as an upfront capital expenditure. The system incorporates not only Dell EMC compute, storage and networking, but the VMware Horizon software stack and optional Dell Wyse clients for rapid scalability.
Smaller developers are also pulling the pieces together for comprehensive open source VDI solutions. NComputing recently launched Verde VDI 8.1, which the company bills as a full-stack, end-to-end solution for small business. The system is built on Linux and includes a number of tools for improved Windows migration, such as support for Windows 8 and 10, as well as Windows Server 2008 and 2012, plus Ubuntu 12.04 and 16.04. It offers enhanced TLS 1.2 security and built-in protection against unauthorized configurations using a mechanism that makes unsanctioned changes non-persistent. As well, it offers MSP-ready hosting under IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.
Meanwhile, a company called Workspot is out with a cloud-native VDI solution that combines Windows 10 virtual desktops, Windows apps and GPU workstations on the Azure cloud. The service is available through monthly flat-rate fees that do not initiate until full production environments are established, and deployment can be completed on a turnkey basis with no systems integration or reference architectures. It also features highly dynamic migration of workloads across hybrid infrastructure using any one of Azure’s multiple regions, all of which is controlled by a single management interface.
Still, many organizations struggle to integrate VDI images across multiple data environments and client devices, particularly as the traditional desktop gives way to smartphones, tablets and other endpoints. Samsung’s Jonathon Wong says the company can address this by merging its DEX mobile solution with VDI platforms like Citrix. By docking a smartphone to a DEX Station, users gain a full-sized display with keyboard and mouse, along with productivity apps like Office. In conjunction with VDI, the system provides native integration between Windows and Android, allowing the enterprise to provide a seamless work environment across mobile and traditional work environments.
The main difference between the VDI solutions of today and those of the past is that cost is no longer the primary value proposition. Instead, developers are stressing ease of deployment and flexibility when dealing with the disparate data ecosystems that have evolved in and around the enterprise.
And with infrastructure now resting on an abstract layer rather than tied directly to hardware, today’s VDI can deliver on the customization that hampered previous efforts while at the same time more easily manage the bandwidth issues that accompany increased scale.
For all these reasons, then, it seems that VDI has a pretty good shot at the enterprise – if not to address current needs, then certainly those of an increasingly distributed and cloudy future.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.