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Top 5 Surprises About Cloud VDI in Azure

Most of the Workspot team has a decade of experience with legacy VDI – building it, implementing it, and running it at scale for the largest companies in the world. When we embarked on the journey to create a SaaS solution for VDI – something customers had been asking for since the earliest days of VDI – we were determined to make the solution simple, provide a flat rate price and take on responsibility for the SLA of the entire stack.

The goal was (and is) to make the solution so simple that customers could think of it as a “cloud PC”: What configuration (CPU/RAM/Storage) does each user need, and how many do you want? Simple. Today we are delivering on this goal. Customers don’t have to worry about all the complex piece-parts of virtual desktop infrastructure; they just select the cloud desktop they need and we deploy it in the cloud region nearest users so they get great performance. Simple and powerful. But the journey to this place has been surprising in a few ways, and that’s what I’d like to share today.

As I look back over the last three years, there are five aspects of our cloud desktop SaaS solution that really took us by surprise:

1. Cloud Desktop Customers Are Mostly Greenfield, Not Legacy Replacement

The question I get asked most frequently by investors, analysts, and the folks who understand legacy VDI is whether our customers are replacing legacy VDI with Workspot or they are implementing new use cases. Many assume that our customers are replacing legacy VDI with Workspot – and are looking for confirmation.

In fact, our experience has mostly been the opposite. Most of our customers are new to virtual desktops:

  • they have never implemented VDI because it was either too complex or because their testing demonstrated unacceptable performance
  • they are using Workspot to implement a new use case that has not been addressed previously with legacy VDI

Legacy VDI requires specialized IT skill sets because of the complex infrastructure that has to be managed, and that puts the solution out of reach for many organizations.  If you look at the raw numbers for end-user computing, the fact that we are working primarily with greenfield customers isn’t surprising. Of the 500 million business PCs, only about 5% of users are on a legacy VDI platform. The majority of users are still working on physical PCs. And also not surprisingly, now that we’ve solved the complexity and performance problems of legacy VDI, the majority of our customers are replacing those physical desktops and workstations with Workspot.

2. Rapid, Global Deployment is Paramount for Enterprises

Legacy VDI was designed for deployment in a single data center. All the focus was on vertical scalability – for example, how you can run 3000-5000 virtual desktops in a single cluster. Scaling is achieved by creating multiple independent clusters. We have talked to customers who have deployed 5, 10, or even 50 separate clusters to service a large number of users. But because of the complexity associated with operating even a single cluster, most companies chose to centralize their legacy VDI deployments in one or two data centers for worldwide coverage. Because of the operational complexity, even the largest customers limited the VDI deployment footprint to local or regional deployments. That means that most users would be remote, and the farther away they worked, the greater the latency they experienced. In this regard, if you were a continent away, you’d be dealing with productivity-killing performance.

With the public cloud now a mainstream computing platform and our innovative Cloud Desktop Fabric™ architecture built for its massive scale, Workspot now makes it simple for our customers to think of virtual desktops as just another PC – it just happens to be delivered from the cloud, instead of being shipped to you in a box. From a single pane of glass, our customers deploy their cloud desktops in the public cloud regions that are closest to each user. If the end-user is in India, they deploy their cloud desktop in India. If the end-user is in Poland, they deploy their desktop in Poland, and so on, around the globe.

With 54+ cloud regions in Microsoft Azure alone, customers are easily deploying Workspot cloud desktops and workstations in multiple regions globally – fast – to accommodate business demands and new opportunities.

3. Performance is Often Better than a PC

Early on in our journey to the cloud we would caution customers about performance. Although we dramatically simplified virtual desktop deployment and management, we were so accustomed to hearing customers complain about poor VDI performance from our legacy VDI days that we believed customers would face the same performance limitations with our solution. Then when our first all-cloud customers told us that the performance was not only better than VDI but the same as or better than their physical PCs, we didn’t pay too much attention, thinking it was a nice set of isolated incidences.  In early 2018, however, after more and more customers declared that their users were really happy with the performance, the light bulbs went on and the physics of the situation became clear. In fact, everything had changed!  We realized that framing our thinking about performance in protocol terms no longer made sense. Of course performance is great because the desktop is usually no more than 50ms away from the user no matter where they are located in the world, virtually eliminating latency. You can read more about this my blog, The New Math of VDI Performance – Better than a PC!

Now, our customer IT administrators are happy because the solution is simple to deploy and they can show value quickly, but even more importantly their end users are happy, and that’s a huge accomplishment given the contrast to legacy VDI. Even extremely demanding users, such as CAD engineers, can’t believe the performance of their Workspot cloud workstations. In this video, you can hear directly from our customer Mead & Hunt about how their 3D designers experienced Workspot performance.

4. Exciting New Use Cases are Transforming Industries

Because of the cost, complexity and poor performance of legacy VDI, customers ended up implementing VDI only for a few use cases where the business benefits were well defined. Primarily this was to achieve better security in financial services organizations, to support remote contractors, or for student labs in education institutions.

We are finding that our customers are implementing new use cases with Workspot. Some notable use cases include 3D CAD collaboration across distributed offices (performance), drone data processing (edge of the cloud), disaster recovery (elasticity of the cloud), IoT data processing, and others. By taking advantage of the power of the cloud through Workspot’s Cloud Desktop Fabric each of these customers is achieving new levels of productivity and business agility that have not been possible previously. They are transforming the way people work and as a result, delivering a better product to their customers, creating a competitive advantage.

5. Most Customers are New to Azure

For most of our customers, Workspot is their first workload in Azure. Even large customers have often done a lot of planning (setting up ExpressRoutes, multiple regions, etc.), but they haven’t deployed any significant production workloads in the cloud. Because on-prem desktops are a complex and resource-consuming workload, cloud desktops are a compelling reason for these organizations to move them to the public cloud. Operational simplicity and happy end-users are the payoffs.

Once they experience the power of the cloud, most of our customers rapidly move other workloads into Azure – usually data first, and then applications. Some of our customers are going all-in and have embarked on moving everything to the cloud.

Ready to see how it works? You can schedule a demo here. We look forward to exploring the possibilities with you.