Jimmy Chang, Director of Products, Workspot, Asked the Provocative Question, “VDI is Dead…or Is It?”
At the outset of his thought leadership presentation at the 2016 Chief Information Officer Leadership Forum held on February 24 in Dallas, Chang said he was going to talk about the past, current, and future trends in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology—where it’s going, how it’s changing, and how it will be used going forward.
In the mid-2000s, Workspot decided to build a technology that would allow access to Windows desktops and deliver applications that were Windows-centric. “In 2006 and 2007, we used existing IT infrastructure and made it easy for IT to bring in VDI,” said Chang. “In launching VDI, we basically brought a product to market that broke the data center.”
“In launching VDI, we basically brought a product to market that broke the data center.”
At that time, server-based, virtualized machines were 80% “read” with very little “write,” and virtualized desktops were essentially all “write.” “We sold $1 billion worth of VDI version 1.0, but the solutions were complex. The technology used four different silos, had poor performance, and took months to deploy,” said Chang. "End users weren’t happy.”
In 2010, Gartner forecast that VDI would replace 30% of enterprise PCs, but, to date, only 7% of enterprise PCs have been virtualized because of the complexity and slow deployment, said Chang.
Workspot then began building extra technology on top of VDI to make it work better and deliver a Windows desktop to any device. The challenge of the complexity of VDI affected not only the IT side but also the end-user experience.
In addition, the number of people who wanted VDI and the number of people who delivered it were mismatched. The implementation of VDI was stalled out in 2011 and seemed dead as a technology. The data center needed to be reinvented, because VDI 1.0 was built for a legacy data center.
Nowadays, end users employ many devices in a variety of different settings. So, how the network is accessed is a big consideration, and end-user experience is the leading factor in determining how successful an IT project is, Chang pointed out.
The transformation of the data center happened in the last few years. “We’ve converged 'storage' and 'compute' into a single box,” said Chang. “But what do we do with all the control signals, brokering, geolocation, etc.? Can we put this outside the data center?” For most companies, unless they can start fresh and do everything in the Cloud, it’s necessary to build on what exists.
“IT, as an industry, has introduced the workspace concept—a single pane where IT delivers any kind of application as a service,” said Chang. That service can be delivered from a data center or Office 365 or some other source, but the end user needs only one log-in, which goes a long way to assuring that the end user employs the technology.
“IT, as an industry, has introduced the workspace concept—a single pane where IT delivers any kind of application as a service."
The trend now is going from an on-premises, VDI-built-on-top-of-the-existing-server virtualization process on a legacy data center to a world where we get cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure to work together to deliver applications while hiding from the end user how this is accomplished. Users don’t want to access a Windows OS on mobile devices, and they want quick access to apps without having to go through a desktop.
Speaking of the next step, Chang said, “VDI 2.0 is designed to deliver the operational complexities of VDI from the Cloud while keeping all the secure, sensitive information running on the VDI session in the on-premises data center.”