Three essential questions to ask VDI providers in the cloud era

Amitabh Sinha has more than 20 years of experience across enterprise software, end user computing, mobile, and database software. Amitabh co-founded Workspot with Puneet Chawla and Ty Wang in August 2012. Prior to Workspot, Amitabh was the general manager for enterprise desktops and Apps at Citrix Systems. In his five years at Citrix, Amitabh was vice president of product management for XenDesktop and vice president of engineering for the Advanced Solutions Group. Amitabh has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

As the workforce has become more dispersed, organisations have looked to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to provide 24/7, anywhere access to corporate apps and desktops. But legacy VDI has fallen far short of its promises, especially when it comes to performance and simplifying IT. However, with cloud adoption accelerating, organisations have the opportunity to completely transform end user computing, deliver beyond the promise of VDI, and take advantage of new levels of agility that drive growth. 

The cloud VDI market, sometimes referred to as desktop as a service (DaaS), is experiencing explosive growth, but within the space, there are multiple approaches and their differences are vitally important for IT leaders to understand. To help determine what the best deployment and management approach is to meet an organisation’s unique needs, there are three primary questions to ask VDI and DaaS providers: 

  • Is the solution globally available? 
  • Is the solution customisable for enterprise needs? 
  • Is the solution turnkey? 

Let’s take a closer look at the three questions you need to ask virtual desktop providers.

Is the solution globally available? 

Most enterprise software was built for one customer and for one data centre. So, the focus was on making the software as scalable as possible within one data centre. That’s the case with legacy VDI. 

It requires a significant amount of resources and has proven cumbersome for most organisations to operate VDI even within a single data centre – let alone three or four. So, a customer might choose to deploy the VDI stack in just one data centre to reduce complexity and management overhead. However, in a larger organisation, most users are not close to that data centre. Because they’re remote, they’re subject to high latency and low bandwidth connections. These networks also can have high packet loss, which requires the use of expensive leased lines to solve.

The upshot is high latency and unhappy users. Even though various remoting protocols have been employed to try to optimise performance, they can’t change the laws of physics.

But a new approach exists now, thanks to the public cloud. Instead of one data centre, the public cloud is made up of many data centres distributed across the globe. Today Microsoft Azure has 54 cloud regions worldwide and more coming, which means that every organisation using Azure now has 54 data centres. It’s time to put them to use.

Because Azure is a globally distributed cloud, it requires a globally distributed cloud VDI solution – and that all comes down to solution architecture. A cloud-native solution, based on a globally distributed architecture, is what you need to look for; it’s the only way to get the performance, security and scalability benefits that have eluded traditional VDI  – whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud – but which are very real today. With the right cloud VDI solution, IT teams can deploy desktops at the edge of the cloud region nearest each user. These edge-native virtual desktops can be deployed within about 25 milliseconds of any user in the world, and that means users get incredible performance.

Is the solution customisable for enterprise needs? 

Ideally, IT teams will be able to manage all their virtual resources – apps, desktops and workstations – using their existing tools and processes, from a single pane of glass. That’s one way to simplify management processes and reduce the need for retraining. To meet the needs of enterprises, the ability to use existing corporate images, integrate with popular enterprise apps such as Skype and Microsoft Teams, and use established GPOs, security policies and multifactor authentication, is required.

One critical aspect of security is strong authentication, but more is needed. A virtual desktop architecture that separates the control plane from the data plane is fundamental to security, because it means that an organisation’s valuable data stays safe and doesn’t enter the virtual desktop control plane. Find out whether potential solutions offer this separation.

Because the IT budget is perennially tight, another important requirement to add to your list is the ability to easily integrate existing IT service management solutions, such as ServiceNow and BMC Remedy. This will efficiently orchestrate desktop provisioning and resource lifecycles.

Is the solution turnkey?

There is the option to build-your-own  VDI solution using many available products, but experience has shown this route requires significant IT team and financial resources. The other option is to choose a turnkey service. Deploying a cloud VDI solution can be as easy as buying a physical PC. Simply choose your configuration:  CPU, memory and storage, and whether or not you want a GPU. Then deploy it in the cloud region closest to the end user. Even better, what if you could scale horizontally across cloud regions – globally – in minutes? Ask providers what’s possible now.

With a truly turnkey service, the provider should own the reliability and availability service level agreement (SLA). Many IT teams want to get out of the desktop SLA business, because it’s time-consuming busy-work that detracts from accomplishing more strategic objectives that contribute to business growth. Know what a vendor’s uptime stats mean and what you’re willing to tolerate in terms of downtime. There’s no reason to accept less than 99.95% desktop availability. 

Goodbye to “good enough”

Some organisations have gotten used to settling for a VDI solution that is slow and expensive because it’s better than nothing. But something better is now possible, thanks to the availability of cloud-native VDI solutions that quickly and easily scale across cloud regions; enterprises don’t have to settle for “good enough” anymore.

By asking the three questions above, you will be able to vet providers to find the VDI solution that will best match your enterprise’s needs, and provide the business agility you need to thrive. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

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