Build your own or engage an expert? Navigating today’s VDI options

It’s a wonder that IT teams don’t have whiplash from watching trends and switching technologies so quickly these days. In fact, try as they might, it’s almost impossible for these professionals to keep up. IT buying decisions must be made faster than ever before, which sometimes renders hardware and software bought just six months ago obsolete. At the current lightning pace of change, solutions that debuted 10 years ago are proverbial dinosaurs. 

Case in point – the first on-premises VDI solution, which came on scene just about a decade ago. As with most first-of-its-kind technology, it was incredibly expensive – as well as clunky, difficult to manage and slow. Deploying it took nine months or more, and IT teams struggled with an overwhelming number of components to get it up and running, including Windows servers, SQL servers, desktop controllers, provisioning servers, storefronts, load balancers and more. 

The last decade has seen incredible improvements in terms of efficiency, cost savings, user-friendliness and simplicity in technology ranging from smartphones to wireless internet to robust cloud-native services. However, VDI and app publishing solutions are, for the most part, a major exception; they seem to be stuck in a time warp.

Two ways to reach your goal

Let’s contrast two versions of a different technology to underscore how backward an on-prem, legacy VDI deployment is in today’s world. 

Imagine two neighbouring families are both planning to go out to dinner.

Family #1 prepares for its dinner outing by calling a car manufacturer, which soon delivers a truckload of car parts to their driveway. At this point, they dutifully set to work assembling their car from scratch.

Family #2 takes a radically different approach. Mom pulls out her smartphone and orders an Uber ride. Within five minutes, they’re on the road. When they return from dinner, happy and satisfied, they wave to Family #1, who are looking a bit frustrated and hungry but are still busily assembling all those car parts.

This is a case of hyperbole used to prove a point. Of course no one would build a car from scratch just to go out to dinner. It sounds ridiculous, right? But that’s what you’re doing when you choose an old-school VDI 1.0 solution over a cloud-native VDI solution.

Changing mindsets

The old-school version of VDI (1.0) is pricy and risky. It takes months to get up and running – and once it’s built, the challenges just keep on coming. There are IT teams who run and maintain hundreds of servers just to support their VDI deployment. Imagine keeping all of those servers and VMs patched. You’re squandering precious time and resources just like Family #1 - don’t forget that after their car is built, they’re also fully responsible for all of its repairs and ongoing maintenance. Are they ever going to go anywhere? 

Wouldn't you rather just request an Uber, which not only provides the car but also provides a friendly, competent driver who takes you where you want to go? Now you can. The cloud is enabling a massive VDI paradigm shift. VDI 2.0 enables IT teams to move beyond clunky, on-premises VDI that never worked well. 

A new VDI paradigm

Legacy VDI isn’t just hard on the IT department; it also directly impacts users. Logins take forever, and sometimes users cannot connect at all. It doesn’t have to be this way anymore, though. Instead, imagine taking a new approach to deploying VDI. Using a cloud-native control plane combined with either Microsoft Azure or hyper-converged infrastructure for your data centre is the ticket.

This 2.0 approach enables VDI deployment in days, not months. It also significantly reduces costs. Both your IT team and your users will get a huge boost to their productivity because they will no longer waste time with daily troubleshooting. With all the resources you’ll be saving, you’ll get to make far more interesting and strategic decisions to help grow the business. You’ll be a hero to everyone – your IT team, end users and upper management.  

Professional drivers wanted

VDI 2.0 offers a cloud-native control model while leveraging a cloud connector to orchestrate on-premises or cloud-based resources for virtual desktops. All of the typical VDI components (brokers, gateway servers, profiles, application delivery, etc.) are completely eliminated. You just don't have to deal with setting them up, patching them, scaling them, planning for high availability and troubleshooting them.

It is now possible to deploy VDI in as little as one hour – music to the IT team’s ears. All of the VDI control functionality is infinitely scalable and running in the cloud. In addition, when new client features are available, IT no longer needs to update end users’ devices one by one. Instead, the client updates itself automatically from the app store. Users appreciate it because they can access desktops, apps and data from any device (PC, Mac, iOS, and Android) with a single unified experience – the interface looks exactly the same, every time.  

On-premises infrastructure is now no longer necessary; organisations can forego it altogether. It’s as easy as signing up for a subscription-based experience in which the provider provisions your Azure infrastructure for you. Even hyper-converged infrastructure is an option with this model.

Thanks to the cloud, VDI is no longer frozen in time, a relic of technologies past. Next-generation providers have seen companies’ pain points and realised the need for a significant upgrade. Dramatically lowered costs and deployment times are now possible, as well as greater efficiencies. Wherever users may be, they get a fast and reliable experience. IT teams are free from the struggle of deployment challenges and can focus on other important tasks. 

Brad Peterson, marketing strategy and operations, Workspot
Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa