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VDIworks 2013 Prediction: The Year to Make Good on VDI Promises

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Amir Husain, CEO, VDIworks Inc.

2013: The Year to Make Good on VDI Promises

VDI vendors have fallen too far behind the curve and must deliver in some important areas to maintain customer interest in Desktop Virtualization

For the past four years the virtualization community has heralded each successive year as the "Year of VDI"  (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). While adoption has definitely increased and many enterprises are actively considering desktop virtualization for their environments, growth has not quite been what many analysts and industry watchers had imagined. Many in the industry will recall Gartner's prediction of 49 million VDI users in 2013. Those actually operating in the field will tell you that we are way off that number when accounting for true VDI seats. Let's not even get into the strange number fudging and the odd "buy an app virt license but let me call it VDI" practices being followed by a few major vendors. Suffice to say, as an industry we are not close to 50 million honest to goodness virtual desktop users yet! 

But why have things played out this way? Was the downturn to blame?  Was it a case of unjustifiably optimistic analysts looking to make the case for the next big market? Perhaps, and perhaps. But technology vendors are not so easily absolved of blame. Let's face it: Desktop virtualization infrastructure has not been able to evolve as rapidly as it needed to. As a consequence, it has taken way too long to iron out performance, stability and functionality kinks that most customers faced with their desktop virtualization proof of concept deployments.  

Meanwhile, the larger IT industry hasn't stood still these past four years. While VDI customers were grappling with remote desktop performance and trying to validate vendor claims about the density ASICs and protocols would enable on host hardware, ARM processors were coming of age, tablets took off and smartphones evolved into devices far more powerful than a Thin client circa 2008. At the same time, installed capacity in the Cloud for storage and compute (application hosting) went up dramatically, spurring application migration to a web-enabled model.  

Too many customers share their frustration at the high cost, complexity and rigid choices VDI vendors subject them to. It is not typical for vendors to dictate choices to customers, "You must use this protocol to get a decent experience, but it will only work with my Zero client and my broker!".  More so than traditional desktops, VDI requires a greater number of infrastructure components. When each vendor tries to lock the entire stack down, the customer is left computing ridiculously high per-seat licensing costs, using obnoxious formulas and wondering how much of his datacenter he will have to rip out if he ever went with a different desktop strategy.  

To be specific, here are just a few of the areas where VDI vendors have fallen behind: 

1)      A cost effective means of delivering a high density of users per server is not really being offered by the leading vendors. You can run a high number of users when your graphics requirements are limited, but when you need productivity PC-like graphics across a couple of monitors, your user density drops tremendously. You're supposed to buy specialized ASIC-based accelerator cards - which only work with a particular vendor, of course - and do all other kinds of voodoo. Frankly, it is a pain to deal with. There are no acceleration standards; there are no industry-wide benchmarks for end-to-end graphics performance, recognized by all vendors. There are just too many holes here. 

2)      There are too many options and not enough standardization around VDI storage architectures. In order for the market to scale past the knee of the curve, the technology needs to be easy to provision and rapidly scalable. This is not the case today. Each VDI deployment is treated as a bespoke deployment. Contrast this with taking a box cutter to a box labeled Lenovo, removing the enclosed PC and plugging it into a wall socket and hitting the power button. PC deployed. In contrast, a lot more needs to happen before a VDI VM comes online. Storage is a big part of this. There are literally dozens of storage vendors each selling a different solution to the same problem, while all the major virtualization vendors have their spin on things which essentially amounts to not committing to anything in particular. Does the customer have to be a rocket scientist to figure out VDI storage? Today, it's pretty close to that. 

3)      VDI Management continues to be fragmented. Are we really telling customers that they have to implement a separate endpoint management solution provided by the Thin client vendor, while using VM management tools from a Hypervisor vendor, a desktop inventory and management solution from a Systems Management vendor and storage management software from a storage company? Not to mention brokering, load balancing, power management, remote control and other elements that belong in the mix. Do we expect customers to recruit brain-surgeon help desk personnel who will go through half a dozen different console applications to figure out why someone's VDI system is having issues? This borders on the ridiculous, but is also an unfortunate example of vendor arrogance. We will make it easy for ourselves, regardless of whether it is hard for the customer. This won't work any longer. 

These are just a few examples, but there many other shortcomings which have been known for a while now and have gone unaddressed.   

In 2013, vendors in the VDI ecosystem really need to get with the program and deliver on the promises made over the last several years. My prediction is this: if we fail in doing so, as an industry we will be confronted with uniform disbelief when we once again proclaim the coming year to be, "The Year of VDI". 

About the Author

Amir Husain is the President and CEO of VDIworks (, an Austin, TX based developer of VDI management software. He holds over a dozen filed and awarded patents in Virtualization and Cloud Computing. Amir was the CTO and currently sits on the Board of ClearCube Technology, the world's first developer of PC Blade and Connection Brokering technology. Amir is also a Board member at, the maker of 3 World #1 Mobile Applications and Wheel InnovationZ, a Texas based stealth startup focused on mobile Cloud computing. 
Published Monday, November 26, 2012 7:13 AM by David Marshall
VMBlog talks to VDIworks about the future of VDI in 2013 | The VDIworks Blog - (Author's Link) - November 26, 2012 10:49 AM - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

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