Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013. Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed article by Henning Volkmer, CEO, Cortado, Inc.
VDI Printing: The Past, Present and Future
When it comes to implementing new technologies, the industry
tends to measure success on time-to-market and the change it has on an
organization in months, maybe even weeks.
Judging by this industry standard, the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
movement has far surpassed these time standards. In its defense, VDI is a technology that
everyone from vendors to the VDI systems themselves to customers are all trying
to perfect. After all, vendors have a
huge user base to satisfy and those end users are becoming more demanding than
VDI has come a long way in the last few years. It estimated that the number of those
evaluating VDI has grown to 40 percent in midsize enterprises. These
enterprises are seriously committing to virtual desktops with the intention to
use the technology for more than a third of their desktops by the time VDI projects
It's safe to say that desktop virtualization will have a huge impact
in the next few years. To make sure that all the investments into the
technology pay off, it is absolutely critical that desktop virtualization projects
one-up the user experience of a desktop PC. Anything less and the lack of user
acceptance and increased user support will
make it impossible for the project to break even.
There are two key areas to keep an eye on when it comes to ensuring
a superior user experience, printing and mobility. While printing and mobility seem
very different, they have come together thanks to one of today's hottest items:
When working on a cutting edge VDI deployment, it may seem almost
silly to spend time thinking about printing.
After all, printing is a technology that has been around for decades and
fundamentally does not seem to have changed in quite some time. But printing
remains woven into the fabric of business as one of its most important services
and it takes effort to bring legacy technology and integrate it with the newest
desktop technology. On the upside, that effort is usually rewarded with a better-than-ever
printing experience accompanied with significant cost savings.
Printing challenges in VDI are very similar to those
encountered by people who have tried, or used, terminal services based
applications by Microsoft or Citrix over the past decade. As desktop operating
systems and applications are centralized, it becomes evident the amount of
bandwidth printing requires. In
addition, the thousands of different printer drivers that pose compatibility
challenges and how the constant change of printers, queues, settings etc.
require too much administrative time need to be taken into consideration. When
putting printing under the microscope, it reveals how expensive (estimates
usually range upwards of 5 percent of a companies revenue) printing actually is
when you take into account the printer and supply costs, as well as the for IT
resources and staff.
As VDI becomes more widely used, it also brings
increased interest in the ability to deliver solutions to the most efficient
end points instead of using the regular PC endpoint. This allows IT to enable different work
styles, further simplify administration and reduce costs. While no one will
argue that iPads and some other tablets have brought increased interest in
using VDI wherever and whenever, even though that may not always be the most
efficient way of using applications and company data on these devices. There is
also an increased interest in making office desks more efficient and easy to
use.. The recent acquisition of Wyse,
the long-time industry leader for thin clients, by Dell, certainly shows an
increased interest of mainstream IT in revamping the office computing
From a printing perspective however, these devices
will require some added attention. A traditional Windows PC can be used to
process the raw print job that is delivered by the application. This does not
solve any bandwidth problems, but alleviates the strain by mitigating some of
the printer driver issues as long as the user has administrative access to that
With mobile operating systems like iOS and Android
written to be far less complicated than traditional desktop OS's and with most
thin clients designed for maximum efficiency, there is no room in the operating
system to user printer drivers and jobs need to be fully processed on the backend
before being sent to the printer. This requires added computing resources on
the virtual desktop and potentially requires the image to deal with dozens of
different drivers and driver versions and the potential conflicts that arise
Those who have dedicated much of their professional lives
to helping users enjoy the benefits of a centralized VDI, could add to the list
of things to watch out for, but I think it has become pretty obvious that
printing is an important topic as you work on or consider VDI. It is also important to note there are
affordable and cost effective solutions that can make the VDI printing
experience better than what most users know from their PC by enabling new agile
and mobile work styles while at the same time enabling companies to increase
security as well as reduce direct printing and printing-related administrative costs.
As you are heading into 2013 with plans to
evaluate or expand your VDI deployments make sure you take a look at printing and
mobility and evaluate solutions that can improve printing
based on the following criteria.
vendor have close ties to your VDI vendor? Some of the print solution companies
provide basic print technology to the VDI vendors with more capable add-ons
available. At a minimum, they should be able to show that they have worked with
that VDI vendor for years and delivered reliable results with small and large
technology you are looking at be used across different platforms to bring added
benefits to your current and continuing PC deployments? Usually those solutions
can also be switched to new VDI technology or OS at little or no cost should
you decide to upgrade your VDI technology down the road?
vendor truly support mobile printing from iPads and other mobile devices to
deliver an enterprise grade print experience at any location? Just leveraging
technology built into the device like AirPrint will not meet your users' needs.
vendor truly centralize printing to print servers in your data centers and
still deliver a superb experience across your user base? As you centralize
desktops and applications you really do not want to keep administering printing
on users' desks, desktops or on individual servers in different locations.
vendor truly focused on printing? Do they vendor offer tools for cost analysis?
Can they support increased security requirements with encryption or release
upon user authentication? Will they be able to support more complicated
scenarios like published applications within virtual desktops?