By Mark Templeton, Mentor & board director for market-leading technology companies, including Workspot—the Cloud PC Company. Read the full article on Forbes.
When we look back at traditional, on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), we can understand why IT organizations adopted it. VDI centralized the delivery and management of Windows desktops and apps from data center servers, providing anywhere access over a LAN or internet connection. It improved security while supporting a workforce that worked largely within reasonable proximity of an enterprise-operated data center. However, VDI was time-consuming, capital-intensive, complex and hard to scale. With the introduction of Cloud PCs—an enterprise desktop experience delivered from the cloud—it’s now possible to modernize legacy VDI.
VDI Has Run Its Course
Over the last few years, increased security threats, the mainstreaming of hybrid work and a more globally distributed workforce have driven a greater need for virtual desktops to support hybrid work styles. Digital natives are expected to comprise as much as 75% of the workforce, increasing demands for virtual workplace technology that provides a high-performance, consumer-like user experience; seamless transitions between personal and work-related online experiences; and simple, flexible ways to collaborate from anywhere.
Unfortunately, legacy VDI has created some real challenges for IT teams.
• Limited scalability: At a time when organizations need the greatest agility, VDI usually binds them to a single data center. When deployment is needed across multiple data centers, VDI gets exponentially more complex—leading to increased ownership costs, system complexity and management overhead.
• Chronic over-provisioning: Because expensive VDI infrastructure can sit idle for long periods of the day, over-provisioning of server, storage and networking capacity is needed to accommodate peak usage. Thus, on-premise VDI lacks the capabilities of scaling up or down that Cloud PC services can offer.
• Architectural and operational complexity: On-premise VDI requires complex integration of servers, networking, storage and software components to create a successful deployment. As a result, it’s notorious for long projects that require expensive consultants, systems architects and third-party add-ons to design, procure and integrate.
• Poor user experience: Legacy VDI systems have been designed and improved incrementally over many years, so they lack the kind of built-in telemetry needed for end-to-end observability. This means the ability to proactively monitor user experience, security and availability is nearly impossible—falling severely short of what IT departments need to deliver a quality user experience and cloud-native service levels.
Time and again, major enterprise software categories have transformed from on-premises software models to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions—Siebel gave way to Salesforce, Peoplesoft was disrupted by Workday and BMC was replaced by ServiceNow. Now, VDI is no different as it can inhibit today’s needs for business growth, efficiency and resilience. The solution to its shortcomings is switching to SaaS Cloud PCs, where system availability, monitoring and user experience are vendor-guaranteed.
What Cloud PC Can Do For Business
The Covid era made everyone acutely aware of how quickly massive business disruption can happen and how destructive its consequences can be. Moreover, it’s increasingly clear that a work-from-anywhere experience is a competitive differentiator for reaching and retaining talent. With that in mind, Cloud PCs can offer modern workforces what they need, whether it’s in-office, completely remote or a hybrid model.
• SaaS delivered: Cloud PCs delivered as a service shifts heavy architectural, deployment and operational tasks to the vendor, allowing customers to simply consume the software rather than deal with complex VDI projects. IT resources are precious, and their work can be more beneficial if organizations allocate these valuable people to projects aimed at corporate growth and efficiency.
• Workforce flexibility: Cloud PCs untether people from rigid, office-based workstyles, allowing fully secure access to every enterprise workflow from anywhere. Even power users can replace their expensive, liquid-cooled PCs with a GPU-accelerated Cloud PC Workstation. This frees them to be creative and productive from any device without sacrificing performance.
• Desktop, app and data security: Securing thousands of distributed physical PCs is challenging. Strengthening security is why most organizations adopted VDI in the first place. While on-prem VDI in your datacenter may be pretty secure, when you move those enterprise desktops to the cloud, you gain the massive security investments of the major public cloud players that your organization cannot possibly replicate.
4 Tips For Creating Your Cloud PC Action Plan
Here are some suggestions for modernizing VDI with Cloud PCs.
• Start your Cloud PC evaluation with your most demanding use case: engineers and designers who use compute- and storage-intense applications like CAD. This helps you determine how performance will be for users of less-demanding applications in your portfolio.
• For maximum agility and business continuity protection, look for Cloud PC vendors that support multiple public clouds. Oftentimes, hyper-scale cloud vendors that offer SaaS-delivered Cloud PCs only support their own cloud, limiting your location choices.
• Look to Cloud PC vendors that practice the Principle of Least Privilege, meaning their control and data planes are separated. With this practice in place, you’re assured to receive the level of security and availability you’ll want.
• Look for guaranteed availability. You’ll want a complete Cloud PC service level agreement (SLA) that is industry-leading in its uptime—around 99.95% or higher. Your users’ productivity depends on it.
Modernizing VDI doesn’t have to be painful, and the benefits are transformational. For maximum business agility and a focus on IT systems that drive business growth, SaaS-delivered Cloud PCs and Workstations are the way forward.