So what are we talking about with VDI?
The concept is simple. Instead of giving a user a local PC running a local copy of Windows 7, you run the Windows 7 desktop software on a server in the Cloud (or your datacenter). Then your users remotely connect to and control their own instance of their Windows desktop in a one-to-one manner from their own client device. The client device can now be a Wyse thin client, an iPad, a MAC, a laptop, Netbook, Unix client or an existing Windows XP machine.
VDI is quite new however we have had server-based computing (SBC) for quite some time with many companies using either a Microsoft terminal server and/or a Citrix Presentation Server / Farm to host desktops for their users.
However today's VDI solutions do “compete” with the traditional local desktop and the SBC desktop solutions from Microsoft and Citrix. When compared to the traditional local desktop of Windows XP or Windows 7, VDI does offer the following advantages:
- Data containment
- Desktops are running on server-class hardware
- Client device independence
- Ease of management
So what are the options for VDI?
There are a number of solutions that a company may consider when adopting VDI. The decision will often come down to price but depending on your size and current IT infrustructure there are a few choices from well established companies. The leading solutions coming from Microsoft, Citrix and VMware. There are a few niche players like nComputing which specialise with schools and the education market.
VMware have a strong hold on the server virtualisation market. Based on this they have a good foothold in many larger organisations. Their VMware View client can provide hosted or virtual desktops to those cusotmers. Microsoft have a couple of solutions, including Remote Desktop Server and Hyper-V. Citrix may well be the best positioned as their solutions integrates and improves both VMware and Microsoft as well as operate independantly with XenServer and VDI in a box. It is not easy to have a simple answer for every case but for the companies we have been engaged with recently they have say 100 staff over 4-5 offices in Asia. Often they do not have great IT infrustrature and see VDI at helping bringing things into control. I believe Citrix's VDI-in-a-box offers a cost effective solution for most companies.
If the you only have one office in Hong Kong and are less than 50 people, then Microsoft's Remote Desktop Server (Windows 2008 R2) works very well and is not as expensive to deploy as some the full VDI solutions. So I am suggesting Microsoft's Remote Desktop solution is not a true VDI but is excellent in delivering server hosted desktops and I believe should not be overlooked. Windows Server 2008 R2 is a good solution for many companies.
The true VDI solutions from Microsoft, VMware and Citrix offer some great features but the resources to run some of these solutions, from a server point of view, can often be overkill if your office only has 30 or 40 people. Serious consideration needs to be given to the work each user performs and their location compared to where the desktop server is located.
There is a need to group your users into like teams or application users. Those that simply use Word, Outlook and say Chrome all day can be treated as basic knowledge works and their resource requirements are low. On the other hand if they were AutoCAD or Multi Media users the computing resources are much higher and the right solution would need to be designed for those user. Consideration for use of USB drives, Web Cams, DVD players, YouTube etc all need to be taken into consideration when selected the server and the user's cloud computing or thin client device.
Is Cloud Computing all about VDI?
Not at all. While the desktop can be Cloud based. The key to cloud computing is migrating your business applications to SaaS based applications like Google Apps or Office 365. Of course big players like SalesForce dominate the CRM market however we have had a lot of success with Zoho CRM in Asia.
Other applications include backup, PBX, Email, CRM, BI applications and more.
So the desktop is one application we need to deliver to the users; email, word-processing, accounting etc are all applications that need to be delivered to your end users.
Cloud Hosted Desktops
For small companies we simply have desktops on demand starting from US$20 per month. If you wish to understand more about Cloud hosted desktops please make contact. These are hosted on Amazon in Singapore.