VDI gets a bad rap because of cost and complexity but its utility in a mobility driven market segment cannot be underestimated. Although Techaisle's most recent SMB VDI adoption survey is still in the field, as per our last survey conducted in January 2014, the US SMB VDI adoption continues to increase. Techaisle's quantitative VDI/DaaS research shows that the SMB objectives in adopting either on-premise or hosted VDI/DaaS solutions revolved around mobility, application availability from anywhere and on any device, disaster recovery, centralized management and administration of end-point devices at the same time reducing costs. SMBs are recognizing the need to adopt virtualization within their businesses, however, Techaisle survey also shows that 56 percent of SMBs consider the technology complex to understand and implement.
Dell's Cloud Client-Computing (a term not commonly understood but gaining ground) group is on a mission to fuel VDI adoption, reduce complexity and keep the costs reasonable. It has developed a set of technologies (based on its acquisition of Quest Software and Wyse) which Dell promises:
- Delivers cost effective VDI solutions
- Are easy to plan, deploy and run VDI solutions
- Provides one of the broadest portfolios for high-performance VDI
Dell's VDI solutions include:
- Zero clients, thin clients – at last count there we 25 million Wyse units installed worldwide
- Dell Wyse Datacenter family – Dell XC appliance, a web-scale converged appliance that runs Nutanix-based solution for XenDesktop, VMware Horizon View, Dell's own vWorkspace running on ESXi, Hyper-V, VMware EVO:RAIL solution running Horizon 6
- Wyse Device Manager (WDM) – based on relational database technology as opposed to slow flat-file technology, to manage all Wyse thin and zero clients
- Dell vWorkspace – a VDI broker which allows any device running an HTML 5 compliant browser to access vWorkspace VDI session
- Wyse TCX Suite – designed for intensive graphics applications as well as enhancing user experience
- Dell WSM (Wyse Streaming Manager) – that works with Windows application to run on a cloud client endpoint just as it would on a traditional PC (extensively used by H&R Block during peak tax season). WSM not only works with MS muilt-point server technology but also with Terminal Services and RDSH.
The allure of VDI and DaaS is clear – but the technology itself and the path to realizing its benefits can still seem somewhat mysterious to many small and midmarket businesses. Techaisle data shows that there is a need for VDI vendors to embark on a messaging exercise that includes:
- Real-world examples of successful deployment of VDI
- Ease of VDI implementation with the least pain for SMBs
- Simplification of understanding VDI technology by removing fear and complexity
Dell is finally starting to build a momentum to remove the mystery and reduce deployment complexity. Understanding the needs of the end-customers, Dell has architected multiple VDI solution delivery models for SMBs of all sizes and levels of technology adoption.
- Pilot kits for up to 10 users: Ideally suited for small businesses, it is a pre-configured solution that is easy to deploy
- Datacenter appliances: A single-SKU pre-configured appliance that comes with deployment scripts
- Solution architectures: Useful for both small and midmarket businesses, includes reference architectures, advisor tool, deployment guides and solution templates
- WaaS & Managed Services: providing anytime, anyplace access of applications, ideally suited for SMBs that do not have internal IT staff or whose IT infrastructure is managed by an MSP
- Custom solutions: for the technologically advanced small and midmarket businesses
Reference architectures have now become an industry-wide practice of providing template solutions for accelerating deployments and achieving successful implementations. Dell has developed 16 Reference architectures that address a wide range of VDI solutions giving flexibility to the end-customer whether they are using Citrix, VMware, Microsoft or Dell's own vWorkspace brokers. Taking a brand-agnostic role, reference architectures have been designed to work equally well with non-Dell server, storage and networking solutions. In addition, these reference architectures address multiple deployment scenarios including vertical applications, BYOD, mobile app stores and secure mobility challenges.
For the IT staff challenged SMBs or where IT specialists take a more prominent role within business units, Dell's vWorkspace 8.5 can easily be deployed and managed by a consultant or an IT Specialist. Put together the solution options make it easy for SMBs to plan, deploy and run VDI whether on-premise or hosted.
When reducing cost is one of the key objectives of using VDI then "cost can be the elephant in the room". Making his point, Jeff McNaught, Executive Director, Chief Strategy Officer, Dell Wyse Cloud Client-Computing, says that there is tremendous amount of misinformation. He argues his case with an example of initial acquisition costs of a VDI solution using Citrix XenDesktop vs. a traditional desktop. The cost difference could range from VDI costing 10 percent more to 30 percent less than a commercial desktop depending upon the level of datacenter solution leverage (components already in place) available to the organization. VDI costs are at most 10 percent more in cases where there is no data center infrastructure and is 30 percent less when high level of data center infrastructure is available. To prove his point he breaks down the pricing into hardware and software components that include server, storage, networking, thin client & monitor on the hardware side and VDA, OS, broker, hypervisor on the software side. Clearly a lot of education is still required, at least within the SMB market where 41 percent of SMBs say they do not have budget to implement VDI solutions even if the solution was appropriate for their business.
VDI addresses the multiple-screen dilemma. In a most recent unique Techaisle survey on SMB Decision-Making authority, SMB decision makers clearly outlined three mobility requirements - mobile solution should integrated seamlessly with existing corporate systems, create and sustain secure connections for remote workers, and deliver seamlessly across the "three screens" of PCs, tablets and smartphones. In such instances consistency and security become very important. SMBs are therefore responding to a need to securely manage and distribute user data and applications by investigating virtual desktop (VDI) technologies enabling delivering of "desktop as a service," or DaaS. With VDI/DaaS, businesses deploy client virtualization technologies to ensure that users have anywhere/any time/any device access to current information, their applications and their desktops. These technologies allow for better data security and auditability, and often offer the additional benefits of reduced CAPEX and OPEX.
The need for VDI as a mobility enabling technology is clear, and its corresponding benefits for user experience and data management are compelling. However, the path to VDI can be tricky to navigate. By capitalizing on the advice provided by current users, SMBs interested in adopting VDI/DaaS can set realistic objectives and expectations, and can manage confidently towards effective deployment. Dell's Cloud Client-Computing group is certainly trying to be the catalyst that removes the cost and complexity issues from implementation discussions.