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VDIworks 2016 Predictions: The VDI space and its next evolutionary step

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2016.  Read them in this 8th Annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Saad Hussain, CEO, VDIworks

2016 Predictions for the VDI space and its next evolutionary step

2015 comes to an end and what a year it has been for virtualization industry. With megatrends like hyperconvergence redefining the landscape and bringing more players to the field, the VDI industry has seen its share of growth across the planet. As we step into 2016, a lot of the initial momentum of innovation gained during this year will begin to mature throughout the next one. The following are key areas where we predict the VDI industry to witness even more growth & progress.

4K Resolution in Virtualization will Spur Greater Adoption

VMware recently announced support for 4k monitors in its Horizon View 6.2 environment. While 1080p monitors are currently the trend, having 4 million pixels instead of the 2 million that 1080p offers is extremely attractive from a user-experience angle. The result is sharper and crisp images along with the ability to use larger monitors at 3840x2160 resolution.

The element of graphics-intensive workflow is gaining steam everywhere. Take healthcare's example where physicians have increasingly begun to rely on high-quality imaging to make better decisions for patients. Similarly the gaming industry where users constantly demand the ‘ultimate gaming experience' in terms of graphics.

The introduction of 4K support for virtual desktops will remove the user-experience impediment for a lot of enterprises that always wanted to leverage VDI's benefits but could not compromise on graphics requirements. NVIDIA, a leader in the graphics space, leads the pack in terms of innovation.

The NVIDIA GRID 2.0 technology extends 4k support and extremely rich graphics across three editions. Virtual PC, Virtual Workstation, and Workstation Extended all offer IT managers the ability to assign required amounts of graphics memory and customized graphics profiles for each virtual desktop user. The company is actively pursuing partnerships with other key players to make graphics-intensive VDI a widespread reality. This market traction will eventually lead to wider benefits realization and adoption of VDI, especially for the growing mobile workforce in every industry that requires seamless user-experience on the go.

However, the adoption of 4k will face some early hiccups. While manufacturers might be trying to get consumers excited about Ultra HD resolution, it cannot happen without powerful compression technology known as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC. To that effect, companies that hold patents in this area are planning to cash them significantly as the 4K wave rises.

One such company is HEVC Advance LLC, which is in talks with key players like GE, Dolby, and Philips to bring them on as licensors. From mobile streaming to home entertainment systems, the company expects to generate around $40 million in licensing fees. Ultimately, this cost will be passed on to the end-user, resulting in prohibition to adoption in the early stages. Eventually, we do expect these costs to diminish as other video compression technology players will enter the market and drive prices down competitively.

Linux VDI Will Rise in Popularity

Linux virtual desktops are rising in popularity, driven by the widespread adoption of free applications like OpenOffice. The notion of being able to avoid licensing costs associated with suites like MS Office, especially in the case of thousands of employees, is quite appealing.

At the vForum China in 2014, VMware announced its forays into VDI solutions for enterprise Linux desktops. In July of this year, Citrix announced the release of the Enterprise and Platinum editions of Linux Virtual Desktop 1.0 for XenApp and XenDesktop 7.6. Entering into the Linux VDI space by these two giants clearly signals rising customer demand. Whether its GUI remoting, accessing Linux apps from anywhere, or simply enabling VDI benefits to Linux enterprise users, the market need is very much present.

However, the adoption rates are likely to be higher in Central America & BRIC regions (Brazil, Russia, India & China). Larger deployments have come to light from these areas. The regional government of the Tamil Nadu region in India deployed 100,000 Linux desktops in its schools to save on Windows licensing. La Gendarmerie Nationale, the French National Police, has shifted 72,000 PCs from Windows to Linux in efforts to save at least $2.2 million per year.

While the bigger names might be stepping up their Linux game now, smaller entities such as VDIworks have been offering Linux-based VDI solutions for quite some time. With support from mainstream players in the virtualization space, Linux-based VDI is definitely going to see growth in 2016.

The Disruption Called "Containers" Will Continue to Evolve

Some go as far as calling it Cloud 2.0, but it might be a bit early for that. However, containers have continued to show promise and commanded significant spotlight at VMworld 2015.

Docker, a ‘unicorn startup' valued at $1 billion is widely regarded as the leader in this space. Their created their container technology almost two years ago but it was really this year that almost every major vendor in the cloud ecosystem announced some level of integration or support.

Giants like VMware are closely following the containerization trend and announced some major solutions at VMworld. The vSphere Integrated Containers product is for those who want to run legacy VMs and containers side by side at the vSphere level. It supports integration with key players in the container space such as Docker & Kubernetes. The VMware Photon Platform is for SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) organizations that run cloud-native applications at larger scales. Containerization has grown to the extent that the first ever Container World 2016 event will take place in the Silicon Valley. Attendees & speakers include experts from companies such as IBM & Google.

Parallel to the rise of containerization, the VDI industry saw a lot of consolidation this year. 2X Software was acquired by closs-platform solutions leader Parallels, while NComputing's core assets were acquired by ZeroDesktop. Also, key players including VERDE VDI & client-side VDI star Moka 5 simply faded away, providing critical lessons for the industry.

From this point onwards, VDI will primarily be the domain of entities providing containerization or server-side VDI solutions. Albeit, containerization makes sense for companies that need to run a mere 2-3 apps in the container. For those who needed cost-effective access to the typical 10+ apps, virtual desktop solutions will remain the most strategic option.

Containerization will also bring App Streaming and Brokering to the front. The whole Operating System becomes overkill and containerization will enable servers to better scale applications for user demands. A shell around a list of applications is all a user would need along with their centralized/cloud storage.

The "Bring Your Own Device" trend Will Scale Significantly

Research & consulting firm IDC forecasted this year that the American mobile worker population will grow to 105.4 million mobile workers by 2020. Eventually, mobile workers will account for nearly 70% of the total U.S. workforce. (Source: IDC)

The catalyst behind the trend's growth is two-fold. On one hand, the affordability of mobile devices continues to increase. The latest devices with power to run business applications are growingly becoming available to consumers all across the US. Additionally, VDI solutions with enhanced security capabilities have led to wider acceptance from enterprises. Workers accessing workplace information on their personal devices is not worrisome anymore.

The sectors likely to adopt BYOD the most will include manufacturing, construction, retail and healthcare. These hold the largest concentration of workers with job descriptions that entail a significant percentage of remote or field tasks. Within these 4 areas, healthcare will likely take the lead as healthcare professionals at all levels increase the use of mobile devices in medical duties.

Hyperconvergence will Witness Hyper-Growth

The hyperconverged infrastructure space saw major traction this year. The idea of having the compute, storage and networking bundled into one easily deployable box has IT leaders putting together cases for approval everywhere.

The fact that hyperconvergence provides opportunity for enterprises to strategically integrate their infrastructure into one ensures easier implementation, manageability, and most of all economic benefits. Amidst tighter IT budget environments, hyperconvergence will not only continue to grow but also become the standard in the longer run.

From VMware to Cisco to Dell, everyone is gearing up with newer and more innovative hyperconverged offerings to cement their share in this hotly contested space. This market will only heat up further in 2016.

VDIworks' Virtual Desktop Solution (VDP) is strategically positioned to play a key role in the hyperconverged space. The VDI management suite is hypervisor-agnostic, allowing it to work with any vendor. This enables enterprises to choose disparate storage, network or hypervisor solutions and seamlessly combine them into a deployable solution. VDIworks has partnerships with key players in the hyperconverged industry, including Pure Storage, Tintri & Nimble Storage.

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About the Author

Saad Hussain, CEO of VDIworks, brings the vision and leadership to extend the company's position as an innovative solution provider in the fast growing global VDI market.

Saad brings over 7 years of experience in business and management, product development and marketing.  Saad holds a Masters Degree in Information Systems from the School of Business, University of Manchester UK and a Bachelors degree in Computer Sciences from LUMS, Pakistan.

Published Thursday, December 31, 2015 4:00 PM by David Marshall
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