Making Virtual Desktops Work Across Hybrid Multicloud Systems

How Citrix teamed up with Nutanix to ensure virtual desktop infrastructure and desktop-as-a-services run on Nutanix Cloud Clusters (NC2), allowing companies to deliver end user computing applications from their private data centers or public cloud services, including AWS and Azure.

By Gene Knauer

By Gene Knauer April 12, 2023

Working in an office full-time has become an anachronism for many. With the New York Times reporting record-high commercial building vacancy rates in the U.S. that have left 185 million square feet of office space unoccupied and counting, the reality of remote work has taken firm hold and is gaining ground in other parts of the world. 

One of the underlying technologies making remote and hybrid work possible is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which allows organizations to centrally manage essential business applications and stream them over the internet to employee computers. Straits Research reports that the VDI market is expected to grow 20% annually through 2030. They expect the market to reach nearly $58 billion, up from almost $12 billion in 2021.

While this technology has been around for decades, it keeps evolving and improving, according to Sridhar Mullapudi, general manager of the Citrix business unit in the Cloud Software Group.  

During his more than 20 years at Citrix, Mullapudi has been on and led teams that have advanced end user computing, evolving it for the hybrid multicloud era.


Moving End User Computing into a Hybrid Multicloud Future

Citrix IT toolsets and infrastructure allow organizations to empower their employees to work from almost anywhere. Their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology really took off in the 2000s. A decade later, it became one of the most widely used workloads when IT organizations first adopted hyperconvered infrastructure (HCI) and it remains so as hybrid multicloud becomes the IT model of choice.

“I'm sure there are 10 years of innovation ahead of us to really make the hybrid work experiences feel like we’re in person,” said Mullapudi.

Running VDI Apps in Data Centers or Cloud Services

The leading VDI and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) company recently certified its Citrix DaaS and Virtual Apps and Desktops solutions on Nutanix Cloud Clusters (NC2), which enables hybrid multicloud deployment and portability of applications and data.

“Our customers are looking at scaling VDI and don’t want to pay for expensive infrastructure,” Mullapudi said.


Raising the Bar for Hybrid Work Technologies

He believes that many companies are trying to get out of owning and running their own data centers. He sees best-of-breed services driving many IT decision makers to embrace a multicloud approach.

“Customers are saying, ‘I don’t want to triple my operational complexity if I have one cloud here and another there,’” said Mullapudi.  

He said this is fueling the need for hybrid solutions like NC2.

Breaking Down Silos With Citrix Cloud DaaS and Nutanix NC2

With today's employees working from so many locations, companies are rethinking how they deliver IT services. Some are turning to cloud-delivered DaaS offerings to enhance their physical desktop strategy, while others are updating on-premises VDI as they evaluate new cloud options. With hybrid cloud platforms like NC2, businesses can manage on-premises and cloud IT resources alongside one another and capitalize on the best of both.

Mullapudi pointed out that two advances led to the growth of the virtual desktop for businesses: the ability to access business applications on the Web, followed by virtualization.

“You could take a full desktop and put it in the data center without a physical workstation and really manage it at enterprise scale,” said Mullapudi. “That gave rise to virtual desktops, which branched into mobile cloud and DaaS.”

Now, VDI applications in data centers are running in hybrid multicloud deployments as well, he said.

In 2021, Citrix and Nutanix announced a joint development effort to integrate Nutanix HCI with Citrix DaaS and Virtual Apps and Desktops. The joint goal aimed to improve security and provide on-demand and elastic access to apps, desktops and data from any device in any location. The partnership included product integration efforts between the companies. Nutanix is a Citrix-preferred provider of hybrid and multicloud deployments and Citrix is a preferred Nutanix end-user computing solution on NC2.

NC2 replicates a company’s owned data centers so their Nutanix software-defined IT environment can run in a public cloud hyperscale environment. With NC2, millions of Citrix VDI and DaaS customers can securely connect their devices and apps from wherever they’re located to a hybrid multicloud combining Nutanix private clouds with AWS and Microsoft Azure public cloud offerings

In addition to unifying management across apps in the disparate environments, NC2 hybrid clouds can eliminate the need for a secondary site for disaster recovery by using the on-demand capacity of the public clouds for failover. Other benefits include dynamic capacity bursting and the ability to migrate and modernize data centers by easily moving apps, virtual desktops, and secure data without costly and time-consuming refactoring or retooling.

Will Future VDI Apps Enable VR in the Cloud?

What is the future of the virtual desktop? Citrix’s Mullapudi said to look for applications like augmented and virtual reality being delivered through VDI in a hybrid multicloud environment.

Today, for example, enabling engineers to collaborate digitally to build a bridge and concurrently examine various components from all 3D angles would require significant time, effort, and cost to set up the supporting technology. But Mullapudi envisions the Citrix and Nutanix partnership one day making such a virtual service easily available to a wide range of hybrid workforces across industries.

“We can help democratize this capability to make it simple and affordable so that it doesn't remain an expensive proposition that only a few enterprises can access,” he said.

Gene Knauer is a contributing writer who specializes in B2B marketing for technology companies. He is also the author of Herding Goldfish: The Professional Content Marketing Writer in an Age of Digital Media and Short Attention Spans.

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