August 2, 2018

Beyond VDI: How the hybrid cloud is forcing us to rethink an industry

By Karen Gondoly

Beyond VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)

Before I start this blog, I want to get something off my chest. Here it goes: Leostream is not a VDI company, at least not in your typical sense of the acronym. Forget what you’ve been told about Leostream by analysts who deal mostly with VDI and, instead, hear me out. Because, in today’s day and age of the hybrid cloud, the last thing you need is a typical VDI company.

So, now, on to the blog.

What happened to the VDI industry over the years?

Raise your hand if you’ve been told, “This is the year of VDI!” Keep it up if you’ve heard that phrase repeated for several years in a row. That’s a lot of hands, and I’m one of them.

I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the year of VDI, yet, and I don’t think we ever will. Since VDI first hit the marketplace, our users have changed, the types of devices they use to access their applications and data have changed, our data centers have changed and, oh, now there’s this thing called the cloud.

VDI, with it’s cookie cutter workflows, legacy stacks, and large price tags, hasn’t evolved with these changes, instead trying to wedge itself into your data center at the expense of flexibility and end-user experience.

To their credit, VDI companies seem to realize that they need to get out of their box, but that’s sometimes easier said than done.

The first indication that VDI is passé.

Enter End User Computing or EUC. The most succinct definition of EUC I’ve found is provided by NetApp, but I’ll give a nod to Dell EMC, as well. Among other things, EUC injects usability into the VDI conversation (which, incidentally, tends to be a sign that an industry is maturing). The idea being that you consider how users want to access the resources they need to get their jobs done and, from there, build a complete digital workspace.

EUC encompasses physical desktops, mobile devices, virtual machines, applications, you name it. Building a good EUC environment requires monitoring tools, hosting platforms (on premises and in the cloud), a centralized management console, and more. (This article is older, but still relevant, if you want a good summary of EUC components.)

Switching from VDI to EUC is a good start, but too often EUC is referred to almost as an abstraction of VDI. What about devops? Why are they not part of End User Computing? How about Cloud Automation? Isn’t it automating tools for users? Why is that not in EUC?

For the most part, everything IT does is about providing the right tools to the right users, so why are we not looking for a way to merge all these concepts together into one umbrella?

Now seems like the time to do just that. Public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are now mature and powerful enough to allow organizations of all sizes to capitalize on an on-demand model for resources with the performance to satisfy just about any user’s need.

So, we need a new term!

After all these years, the term “VDI” carries baggage. It just does. I say “VDI” and people conjure up an image of persistent and non-persistent pools of machines, all managed in exactly the same way by every company.

With the hybrid cloud, there are so many other ways to provide users with the desktops, applications, compute, data, etc., that they need to get their job done. It’s not just VDI anymore; it’s not even just End User Computing. It’s something more.

It’s the ability to use the best platform for every workflow in your organization whether that’s On-Premises or in a public cloud. It’s being able to control exactly how long a user has access to a hosted compute resource, whether that’s a full desktop, an application, or a server. It’s being able to change the user’s experience based on where they log in from, and ensuring that everyone has the performance they need based on the tasks they are performing. It’s being able to spin up and tear down the right sort of resources exactly when they are needed. And, it’s being able to manage it all from a single platform.

And, oh, by the way, that last bit? That’s Leostream. Your friendly non-VDI company.

I admit, I don’t know what to call this, but I’d like to see the conversation get started. But, for now, you can call Leostream whatever you’d like. Just don’t call us a VDI company!

By Karen Gondoly

Karen Gondoly

A 15-year veteran of the technology industry, Karen Gondoly brings leadership experience as well as extensive skills in software development, technical writing, GUI design, and usability to her role as CEO of Leostream Corporation.

An active advocate of innovations in the desktops virtualization space, Gondoly writes widely on the topics of hosting resources in the datacenter and is a member of the “Women of OpenStack” community.

A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she holds bachelor and master of science degrees in aeronautical/astronautical engineering.

She is a dedicated fitness enthusiast and avid runner, having completed over 40 marathons spanning 38 states and 3 countries.
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