|By Andrew Schwabecher||
|March 19, 2013 10:15 AM EDT||
For most CIOs and IT managers, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) isn't a new concept. In fact, many of them have dismissed it more than once amid concerns such as ROI, security and user experience.
But it's time to take a fresh look at VDI because a slew of new technologies have eliminated its biggest drawbacks - real and perceived. As a result, VDI - also known as end-user computing and desktop as a service - is now capable of addressing three of enterprise IT's biggest costs and headaches:
- Management scalability: Today, as the number of desktops in an organization grows, so does the amount of staff and other resources required to manage them. VDI breaks that link and makes managing 1,000 desktops as easy as managing 10. This directly benefits the enterprise's bottom line and competitive position because, for example, IT staff is now freed to focus on revenue-generating tasks.
- Greater control over security: With VDI, data resides entirely in a secure cloud rather than on a laptop's or desktop's hard drive. That architecture eliminates problems such as a device's theft or loss creating a security breach - and the embarrassment and regulatory scrutiny that comes with it. In fact, that's why, for example, some police departments have built their own data centers to implement VDI.
A cloud-based VDI service enables organizations to achieve the same benefit but without the expense of building and operating a data center. In the process, VDI enhances an organization's ability to comply with laws such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as industry-specific best practices.
- Minimize Mobile's Complexity. Although the D in VDI stands for desktop, the architecture can be applied to tablets and smartphones too, eliminating the need for - and expense of - mobile device management (MDM) tools. These benefits extend to employee-provided smartphones and tablets, giving organizations an effective way to minimize the security risks that are a byproduct of a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.
VDI also gives CIOs and IT managers an effective way to accommodate Google Apps (and Chromebook), Salesforce and other solutions where data resides outside of the enterprise, thus creating security concerns. For example, VMware has built-in Google Apps functionality.
VDI Has Reached the Tipping Point
If VDI has so many clear benefits, why isn't it already as common as cloud-based server services? One reason is the misconception that VDI centers around thin clients that lack the performance and functionality that today's business users require. The reality is that although VDI works very well in a thin client environment, which may be ideal for applications such as airport self-check-in kiosks, it also supports more generalized and even power user requirements using traditional PCs, Macs and tablets.
For mobile workers, smartphones and tablets offer superior performance and functionality compared to thin clients. That use case also suggests that the term VDI is too limited and that the broader "end-user computing" might be more appropriate.
In fact, VDI can provide the ideal environment for the specific task required. For example, if the task is a repetitive one, such as order entry or accounts payable, the virtual desktop can be provisioned with reduced CPU power but more storage. Meanwhile, a power user might be provisioned with more CPU and memory than a typical laptop provides. As a result, VDI has the inherent flexibility to increase employee productivity by overcoming any device limitations.
Connectivity is another reason why VDI is at a tipping point. Even remote offices and telecommuters' homes now typically have fiber, copper or microwave with the high speeds and low latency necessary to provide a business-class user experience. For mobile workers, the wide availability of HSPA+ and the growing availability of LTE make VDI practical from locations such as client sites and airports. In fact, Ericsson predicts that by 2016, 70 percent of cloud access will be over a wireless connection.
Some CIOs and IT managers might be concerned about the cost of that connectivity, especially cellular. That's a reasonable concern, but fixating on it means losing sight of the big picture. For example, consider how VDI eliminates the costs associated with:
- Managing and maintaining large quantities of desktop and laptop PCs and Macs.
- Owning and operating an MDM platform.
- Fines and criminal penalties for breaches that violate laws such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.
- Being sued by citizens of European Union countries under the Safe Harbor directive.
- Repairing a brand after coming under regulatory scrutiny, perhaps to the point of having a law nicknamed after your company.
In a sense, VDI is like VoIP, which was technologically viable for years yet never got any marketplace traction. But as broadband IP networks started to become common, VoIP became a practical and then desirable alternative for enterprise communications. From a network, user need and marketplace perspective, VDI is now at the tipping point where VoIP was a decade ago.
What Makes the Ideal VDI Solution?
When assessing their options for implementing VDI, CIOs and IT managers should focus on services that:
- Support 100 percent self-service and rapid turn-up. For example, look for VDI solutions that have a portal where customers can create an account, configure their services and have them delivered immediately to their PCs, tablets and smartphones.
- Enable importing and cloning of existing desktop configurations. Why waste time and resources re-inventing the wheel each time?
- Give IT managers the ability to create and manage different sets of desktop pools. This should include the ability to add, delete, stop, start, reboot and reimage in real time.
- Provide redundant, highly available physical infrastructure linked with best-in-class hypervisor virtualization technologies.
These features provide an ideal solution - not just for a particular organization, but also as a catalyst for mass VDI adoption.
SoftBank and VMWare are among the companies that recognize why VDI could have levels of adoption and revenue comparable to those of cloud-based server solutions. For example, earlier this year, SoftBank licensed 8x8's Zerigo enterprise cloud software to create a VDI solution for enterprises in Japan and abroad.
SoftBank's VDI initiative is noteworthy for at least two reasons. First, the company has a history of betting big and presciently on emerging opportunities. Second, SoftBank is a major LTE operator in Japan and is in the midst of buying Sprint to expand its global LTE footprint. VDI gives SoftBank - and other mobile operators - a value-added solution to attract enterprises to their LTE service. That goes back to the point about how bandwidth has evolved from being a barrier to VDI adoption to a catalyst, and it's one more example of why VDI is coming soon to a PC or tablet near you.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 26, 2014 09:45 AM EST Reads: 592
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 26, 2014 09:45 AM EST Reads: 745
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 26, 2014 09:45 AM EST Reads: 202
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 26, 2014 09:30 AM EST Reads: 726
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,685
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,717
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 25, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,707
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,643
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 25, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,625
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 2,037
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,760
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,128
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,980
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 23, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 2,156
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,095
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 23, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 2,154
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 2,120
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,866
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,871
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,816