Why VDI is not always the answer
Having worked for one of the main purveyors of virtual desktop solutions, I was fully aware that VDI was not the panacea that many hoped it would be. Recently in my new role at Droplet Computing, I’ve started to see a completely different story unfold as I meet with both new customers and those I’ve met previously. All are looking to deliver applications and services to their end user workforce simply, and cost effectively. Customers are also starting to realize that square pegs do not fit in round holes, and virtual desktops or application publishing is not always the answer to their problems.
Now, I’ll put my hands up and admit that I too used to try and hammer in those square pegs, but mainly due to them being the only thing I had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against VDI, nor do I think it’s bad when deployed correctly, and for the right reasons, but what I will say is “when will it be the year of VDI” and leave that there!
The world of end user computing has moved on, thankfully, and IT and businesses are becoming more closely aligned, both realizing that it’s all about the end user and giving them the tools to be productive. After all, the biggest asset to any organization is its workforce. It’s no longer about building big infrastructure and getting as many flashing LEDs into a rack as you can.
As I said, VDI in the right place, for the right reasons, works well. But when it isn’t, it will end up costing an organization dearly. I was on a call with a large global SI/reseller recently, where they were going to build a massive virtual desktop and application solution just so that they could deliver a couple of, what they described, as legacy apps. I’ll save that debate around apps being called legacy when they are still being used in production, for another day. Going back to the VDI deployment this customer is contemplating, you must ask yourself this; is the cost associated with deploying this really going to be value for money? In actual fact, this customer had users that often had no connectivity at all, so VDI wouldn’t be the answer to everything. Therefore, the question is why bother at all?
The answer to that question, is there hasn’t really been anything that can deliver the promise of VDI while simultaneously allowing users to work in the way they want, and regardless of connectivity or device. It’s almost an unwritten rule that if you want older apps to be used then you have to publish them or deliver them using VDI. And what is that promise of VDI? It’s often a combination of things. The first one I just highlighted about delivering older apps to new devices, but it’s also about security, with data now being centralized and secured within the boundaries of the datacenter. That’s all well and good, but you can’t deliver on all of these promises with VDI alone. There is a ‘but’. That ‘but’ being the fact that VDI only works only when the end user is connected. That’s kind of a big but in anyone’s book. I know the main vendors all use the “any app, any device” taglines, but they forgot to add the caveat of needing to be online. Oh, and they have to build server farms too.
Now there is an alternative to VDI and published apps. An alternative that doesn’t rely on always being connected or having to build expensive server farms. It comes in the form of containers. Desktop-based containers, and not just any containers. I am talking about Droplet Computing Universal Containers to be exact. The Droplet Computing method is simple, and eliminates the ‘V’, (no hypervisors required), the ‘D’, (no need for a desktop OS to manage), and the ‘I’ (no need for massive server farms), that are all required to deploy VDI.
What is does is to enable applications or operating systems to be installed into the Droplet Universal Container, therefore making them portable. Portable in the context of the container runs locally in the browser of whatever device you choose, across multiple devices (x86 and ARM-based), and different browsers. Just download your Droplet Computing container from a simple web server then install your apps and run them. For an Enterprise, containers can quickly be pre-populated using standard deployment tools, and then downloaded based on an end user’s credentials and policies. It’s no more complicated than that, but delivers the centralization and security delivered by VDI, yet overcomes the connectivity issue by working in a semi-connected state, allowing apps to execute locally when there is no connection, then sync when there is.
As the tag line says, it’s application delivery, redefined.