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November 20, 2014

Beyond Virtualisation

VDI simply does not measure up, argues ASG Software Solution's Torsten Volk.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Gone are the days when IT was used simply to provide infrastructure and improve processes. Transforming IT into a service broker for the rest of the business is a high priority for CIOs and business leaders. However, there are still improvements that need to be made so IT can better meet business needs.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has become increasingly popular as a brokered service: IT provides users access to their desktops over a network using a remote display protocol to facilitate the use of applications and data, from any location or device. However from an operations perspective, VDI is not measuring up to business demands. It can be pricier to maintain, more difficult to comply with existing security policies, inconsistent, and less flexible. An alternative model is dynamic hybrid workspaces, which provides an efficient method for accessing applications, content, and IT services, through individualised and easily customisable workspaces.

The cost of storage

When it comes to VDI, storage in the data centre is much more expensive than using the local disk. Additionally, IT must plan capacity based on a lot of unknowns, such as boot storms, patches, and performance hungry apps competing for resources. The dynamic hybrid workspace concept aims to deliver only the apps the user requires at any point in time. While virtualised apps run in the data centre or the public cloudwith workspace aggregation the actual operating system (and potentially some of the apps) runs on the local device. As the management of these server-based apps can happen in a granular manner, outside the context of the operating system, storage capacity management and the degree of utilisation remain flexible.

Compliance concerns

VDIs mimic traditional desktops and are therefore subject to the same kind of configuration drift. Employees downloading unapproved apps, such as Dropbox, Skype, and Google Apps, open the door to compliance violations and significant security threats. The dynamic hybrid workspace concept enables end users to take advantage of all of their preferred applications, governed by corporate IT. Ideally, employees can then order these services straight from their workspaces through tight integration with an enterprise service store. This allows business users to further individualise their already tailored dashboards. They are able to collate the desired combination of online apps including Dropbox, Box, Salesforce, SugarCRM and Office 365, as well as virtual and physical apps that are located inside the corporate data centre, without violating existing security policies.

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Delivering the same set of apps and content across devices is tricky without abstraction of the operating system. There is always a good chance that a certain device type is not as well supported as another.
In order to dramatically reduce management effort, IT needs to be able to deliver the same set of SaaS, mobile, virtual, and locally hosted applications to any device, regardless of user role, location, or device type. Dynamic hybrid workspaces ensure a consistent user experience, no matter the device type or operating system.

Maintaining flexibility

Maintenance and high availability are traditionally sweat-inducing topics for VDI deployments that require an incredible amount of planning and a redundant set of hardware. The dynamic hybrid workspace concept enables a much more exact approach to maintenance and disaster recovery than could be achieved through traditional desktops or VDI. During scheduled or unscheduled maintenance windows, individual apps can be repaired, replaced, or updated, without affecting other parts of the user experience. High availability can be configured for individual applications or on the workspace level, ensuring optimal SLA compliance.

Winner takes all

VDI simply does not measure up. Workspace aggregation goes beyond simply delivering virtualised desktops, by providing end users with dynamic workspaces that include content from private and public clouds as well as from legacy IT environments and local devices.

From a management perspective, dynamic hybrid workspaces establish the IT department as a true service broker and exterminator of shadow-IT.

Torsten Volk is vice president of product management, cloud, at ASG Software Solutions

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