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Navigating the VDI landscape in the new normal

Bill Peterson
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Navigating the VDI landscape in the new normalAccording to the World Economic Forum, globally, the number of employees working remotely on a permanent basis is expected to double in 2021. Yes, double.  IT's ability to change and adapt to this new remote workforce will define your organization’s ability to succeed in today’s new normal.   This workforce isn’t easy to please. They demand easy access to create and consume all sorts of data. They expect seamless user experiences and lightning-fast performance from anywhere, at any time, on any device. IT has to meet these and a host of other requirements to establish a digital workspace that’s not only viable, but competitive. Desktop flexibility, agility, and mobility often requires new cloud-optimized infrastructure that can be scaled on demand with simple, automated processes and tools. And IT must deliver it all quickly, securely, with limited staff and budgets, and without slowing its progress on digital transformation initiatives.

Virtual desktop infrastructure is the answer

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a virtualization solution that uses virtual machines to provide and manage virtual desktops. VDI hosts desktop environments on a centralized server and deploys them to end users on request. They are accessed over the network with an endpoint device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.). VDI delivers a virtual desktop with a virtual machine that includes all the necessary user profiles, apps, and data, from a centralized hosted environment, which enables the customized virtual desktop to follow the user, not the device.

Nothing forces workspaces to go virtual like a pandemic

With many of their employees working from home for the long term, companies have increasing demand for VDI environments to support the needs of an expanded and elastic remote workforce. VDI is now an enterprise-class, tier 1 workload, on a par with SAP or Oracle. It is valued for its operational flexibility and increased security profile when compared to traditional desktop approaches. Companies are moving their VDI environment from their on-premises to multicloud environments, especially in light of the “new normal” of the global remote workforce.

There’s more than one way to do VDI

The best thing about VDI is that it can be deployed and managed in hybrid and/or multicloud environments. Before committing one way or the other, it helps to gain a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the different deployment options.

On-premises VDI: Most customers connect to a multicloud environment, and historically their VDI resides in their on-premises environments, thus creating a hybrid environment. This has the benefit of direct, high-speed connectivity for users, with negligible latency. And unlike with cloud providers, on-premises VDI deployments deliver predictable costs, even when user workloads fluctuate. Keeping VDI on the premises also means IT has complete control over back-end infrastructure and can use any management, monitoring, and capacity planning tools they like.

Okay, now for the downsides. On-premises environments entail extensive overhead costs, with lengthy time to value, and extremely expensive up-front and expansion costs. Cost may be predictable in on-premises environments, but you could also wind up paying for more consumption than you need. And compared to running VDI in the public cloud, managing an environment on the premises is far more complex and eats up a lot more enterprise resources.

Public cloud VDI: The main benefit of hosting VDI in the public cloud is mitigating the complexity and cost of self-hosted VDI environments. With a cloud solution, VDIs are easily scalable, so you can scale up and down to meet the needs of your elastic remote workforce.

With public cloud deployments, performance reliability can be affected by the wide range of access devices, types of connectivity, and diverse VDI devices (gateways, brokers, etc.). Unpredictable VDI usage patterns can also place significant storage scalability demands on the organization’s environment. In addition, there may be inherent limits to the hyperscaler reach for users to connect easily and quickly. And  without careful management and monitoring, VDI cloud costs can easily skyrocket.

NetApp VDI for the new normal

NetApp® VDI solutions address all of the challenges associated with typical deployments, while giving you the flexibility to evolve and grow in the new normal. Whether modernizing your existing end-user environment on your premises, expanding it to any cloud, or both, our VDI solutions allow you to run the most demanding, mission-critical digital workspace applications and workloads with predictable performance, advanced data management capabilities, and lower cost.

NetApp delivers consistent, repeatable, and predictable end-user computing (EUC) technologies and services that enable your organization to control multiple VDI tenants across private and public clouds, including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon AWS. And we deliver industry-leading data optimization, protection, and mobility that improves your business agility and flexibility while reducing business risk.

To learn more, read our white paper on virtualizing your workspace during a time of disruption.

Bill Peterson

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