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Why Should You Care About VDI and Desktop-as-a-Service?

By Ruben Spruijt

It’s been a long-running joke in the IT industry that every year is going to be “the year of VDI,” the year when IT organizations finally recognize the full value of virtual desktops and applications and adoption accelerates.

But while industry watchers have been laughing, use of VDI—and its cousin Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)—in the real world has been rising steadily. According to Gartner[1], the global market for infrastructure to run VDI software in 2019 is $7.58B, and the VDI/DaaS software market is $5B. And spending is growing more than 11% annually—much faster than IT spending as a whole.

VDI and DaaS are two of the primary technologies in the end-user computing (EUC) stack. If your organization has been contemplating either adopting EUC technologies or expanding an existing deployment, you’re probably wrestling with some tough decisions.

This blog—the first in a series dedicated to VDI and DaaS—addresses why companies should consider adopting these technologies in the first place. Later blogs in the series will dig into the specifics of VDI and DaaS—including pros, cons, and important deployment considerations for each—to help you make more informed decisions.

So there’s no confusion, in this series when we talk about VDI and DaaS, we are referring to the full spectrum of technologies for delivering virtual desktops and/or virtual applications. This encompasses well-known solutions such as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly XenApp and XenDesktop), VMware Horizon, and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.

Why Do Companies Adopt VDI and DaaS?

Successful EUC projects typically deliver benefits for end-users and IT teams—and for the company as a whole—such as:

  • Simplifying application and desktop management
  • Improving data security and availability
  • Enabling BYOD or CYOD
  • Simplifying and accelerating onboarding/offboarding
  • Enhancing the end-user experience and increasing productivity

Companies implementing VDI or DaaS are often hoping to drive down CapEx and OpEx. However, if that’s your only goal, you may be disappointed. Here are three of the main reasons why organizations should consider VDI or DaaS.

Reason 1: Centralize Desktop and Application Management

Every organization has end-users that need access to apps and data to get work done and be productive. Supporting these end-users has negative impacts on IT in terms of cost, complexity, and time required. Both VDI and DaaS can centralize management and reduce these impacts, making it easier to manage a large number of desktops and end-user applications, thereby simplifying daily operations.

With physical desktops and laptops widely distributed across the company, tasks like installing new applications and managing, patching, and updating operating system software are extremely difficult. It’s almost impossible to keep everything current. With VDI and DaaS, these tasks are managed and executed centrally; processes can be automated to ensure your environment stays up to date. If a problem arises, it is much easier to roll back to a known-good configuration.

With DaaS, the platform to deliver applications and desktops is part of the service so much of the work is done by the provider, further reducing the administrative burden and lowering risk. In most services, your IT team remains responsible for managing specific user applications.

When a new user comes onboard, with traditional systems it often takes a long time to procure, configure, and deliver a suitable device with the necessary applications. With VDI and DaaS, new users can be onboarded much faster and new applications can be provisioned quickly, so users are immediately productive.

When a user changes roles or leaves the company, he or she can be de-provisioned just as quickly. This is ideal for modern businesses, especially companies that have large seasonal swings in their workforces. It is also extremely valuable during mergers and acquisitions.

Reason 2: Enhance Security and Protect Intellectual Property

For many IT teams, device management is a far smaller concern than the security risks created by hard-to-control devices with stored company data. According to a recent Forbes article, “Nearly 41% of all data breach events from 2005 through 2015 were caused by lost devices.” VDI and DaaS enable end-users to access company data without the need to store anything locally on the device, eliminating the risks associated with a lost or stolen laptop.

  • User applications no longer need to be installed or run locally on each device
  • Company data remains in your datacenter or the cloud where it is much more secure
  • If a device fails, the user can simply switch to a different one and pick up where they left off

Often, a VDI or DaaS solution is configured to be stateless; the operating system and user applications are always pristine on every login, while user data and user settings are stored and secured centrally.

Another advantage of both VDI and DaaS is that you can control access using modern authentication and authorization technology—including multi-factor authentication and context awareness. Enforcing stricter rules makes it more difficult for outsiders to gain unauthorized access.

Reason 3: Enable BYOD or CYOD

Gone are the days when organizations could hand out a standard black laptop or beige desktop and expect everyone to be happy. End users are increasingly mobile and want greater choice in the devices they use, making choose-your-own-device (CYOD) and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives increasingly common. However, giving users direct access from uncontrolled personal devices is a recipe for disaster. By pairing BYOD or CYOD with a VDI or DaaS solution, you can give your end-users the freedom to work from any location with almost any device—without creating unacceptable security risks.

Deliver a Better Experience for Everyone

VDI and DaaS solutions can make end-users more mobile and more productive, reduce the risk of data and intellectual property loss, and make IT operations more efficient. If you’ve been putting off a planned VDI or DaaS project, now’s the time to get started.

However, you’ve probably already heard more than one horror story about a VDI project going off the rails. Next time, we’ll look at the challenges that stand in the way of VDI success and discuss ways to address those challenges.

[1] Gartner Infrastructure Software Forecast 2019 Q1, Forecast Analysis IT Spending Report 356328, and IT Key Metrics Data 2019 Report 375647

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