Is VDI dead?

Just Google the title and you will find many articles around thoughts/opinions that VDI is dying or already dead. Well, dead is not the case in my opinion but dying is for sure. And to set the scene, I’m not sure DaaS is the answer either. I have been promoting VDI for years and years but since since early last year, I have been struggling with the concept. It has become so complex and costly. To be clear, I do believe in the solutions VMware and others make though. They are mature and deliver an OS and apps in a decent way. I just think VDI isn’t the right concept anymore.

VDI was meant to make the corporate desktop cheaper and easier to manage and on top of that, to make it easier to access corporate resources from a broad range of devices. Security also was a reason to go VDI. To keep information inside (your) data center.

Again, I believe VDI solutions are very mature and offer you a decent experience. I also believe there are use cases where VDI is a great fit (maybe for a small group of contractors). However, is VDI the way to go for your majority of users in your organization? That I doubt. Let’s be honest and objective about VDI- it is an artificial solution. It is unnatural how you use the OS and legacy apps by making them accessible over the network, remotely using a display protocol. This and all the components you need to set it up has an effect on the cost and user experience. Maximize a full HD video and it won’t be as crisp as locally on a laptop/any other device. Normal features like a communications solution like Skype needs extra attention or isn’t fully supported. Multi-media needs extra attention and likely extra hardware like GPU’s. My statement, a local experience will always be the best experience, no matter how mature a VDI solution might be.

Now the other side; the solution itself. VDI has become very complex. Take a look at all the components you need to setup, to create a VDI environment; you need central hardware like compute and storage, graphics hardware, connection brokers, DMZ components, data bases, additional components to make the VDI solution better manageable and efficient, load balancers and if you want redundancy, you need to do it twice. Just check out a couple of reference architectures and check the components, ports, considerations you have to make to make it all work. It isn’t easy anymore. Also, I’m truly questioning if VDI is the cheaper solution. Also because a lot of environments are over sized. IT departments going for a bigger environment than needed just to be sure.

Is security a good reason to implement VDI? Well, that could be and I’m sure there are use cases for VDI around that topic. However, in general, when you talk about data security, solve that challenge on the data level instead of putting every desktop in the data center. There are great tools out there that can help you label and protect your data. Malware/anti virus protection needs to be done no matter which way you go. Also, security around app access is pretty much the same in a virtual or physical world.

In the end, it is about apps, security and data. You need to manage those in VDI and decentralized/physical environments. In some cases, management might be easier in a VDI environment, and sometimes in a decentralized/physical one. But does a couple of wins there justify setting up a complex VDI environment where, most likely you will lose on user experience?

In my opinion, going back to the physical/decentralized way is (partly) the new way of handling end user computing. Of course, you need to combine that with separation of data from the OS, a new way of managing the OS (light way and through Enterprise Mobile Management) and your move to the cloud with apps/data. I believe that will give you a better user experience, is easier to setup and comes for a better price. And you should be able to access corporate resources from more devices as well. In a different way but but with the same result; great user experience and productivity.

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