VDI is not new, but the circumstances of 2020 have significantly shifted the needle for its broad adoption.
For many years, Citrix and VMware have provided organizations with the ability to remotely connect to virtualized desktops. They’ve given all types of enterprises an alternative to deploying Windows at the edge. Some have utilized VDI for security reasons, others to try and lower cost, while many have embraced it to help with company acquisition and remote office worker access. Yet, despite the technology being available for over 20 years, VDI has typically only seen a 12% to 15% adoption rate compared to traditional Windows desktops. Until now.
The COVID Effect on VDI
When COVID hit and ‘work from home’ (WFH) became a requirement, those utilizing VDI simply increased their use of it. However, those that didn’t found themselves in world of supply chain issues, security challenges, remote management difficulties and VPN chaos.
In a world where datacenters were closed, server hardware supply shortages became a reality, and on-prem installations were more difficult, even those with VDI faced some challenges as they looked to expand their VDI usage. But ‘the cloud’ stepped up to save the day.
Hosting Citrix and VMware in the cloud had already started prior to COVID and WFH, but the world was still worried about security, data integrity and cost. Enter Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).
Just months after Microsoft had released their Windows Virtual Desktop – as a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering – the world suddenly required DaaS more than ever. With the launch of WVD came new and enhanced offerings from Citrix and VMware – also in the cloud and sometimes on top of WVD. WVD also introduced new ways to license, further reducing the cost of deploying a virtualized desktop.
WFH dominated the end user computing space in 2020 and created a tactical increase of VDI/DaaS use. But now organizations are looking to the future and developing strategies which will also enable a ‘work from anywhere’ approach – one that supports a return to the workplace at some point yet simultaneously provides a longer term WFH strategy.
In 2019, Gartner had already predicted that that by 2023 “price reductions and product maturity will lead organizations to move 20% of VDI users into DaaS offerings in the cloud.” They also stipulated the importance of Microsoft entering the market by stating that “Microsoft’s entry into the desktop as a service (DaaS) market has dominated Gartner inquiries since September 2018 and rejuvenated interest in DaaS maturity and business value.”
Add to that, a recent report from Global Market Insights suggests that the VDI market size is set to surpass $30 billion by 2026, largely propelled by the adoption of WFH and BYOD policies.
What Should the Endpoint Be?
Whether it be for security, compliance, cost, user experience, or simply to reduce overall time wasted on endpoint management, VDI and DaaS are no doubt going to grow in the coming years. But if applications and desktops are being moved to the cloud, then one question remains – what about the endpoint? What do we really need that user device at the edge, in our homes and on our desks to be? How easy can it be managed and secured? This paradigm shift in VDI is also causing a momentous shift at the edge.
IDC reported in 2019, Linux was now leading the market as the operating system of choice, owning 39.4% of the market. It had overtaken Windows at the edge.
As more organizations transition to running Windows Desktops and applications in the cloud, the question is really whether the overhead and security concerns of Windows endpoint management are really required.
Ransomware continues to rise, the requirement to patch and the constant stream of updates draw significant attention to the time and cost of managing Windows remotely. VDI and DaaS solve much of this, but only if the endpoint is running something other than Windows.
Our bet in on the Linux-powered endpoint. With lower cost, greater security, flexible manageable and high performance – even for the most video-intensive applications – Linux-based edge devices are favored by even Microsoft for accessing workspaces in the cloud, particularly those based on WVD. These Linux-enabled solutions are also among the most valuable tools for supporting workers as they evolve to a hybrid, more agile workplace.
The future for VDI and DaaS is bright. Yes, computing cost will continue to rise, and automation and elasticity of the infrastructure will become ever more important. Even more critical will be securing the environment – from edge to cloud. But one takeaway we can confirm from 2020, edge computing has transformed for good and VDI may finally become the prevalent solution on our endpoints – no matter where we want to work.
Image licensed from Adobe Stock.