DON’T LOOK NOW but virtual desktop infrastructure might actually be catching on.
No, really. All of those forecasts experts have been making for years about VDI reaching escape velocity are finally coming true, at least according to VMware Inc.
“There’s been a ton of interest this year,” says Justin Grimsley, Windows 10 product marketing manager at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization leader. VMware rival Citrix Systems Inc. confirms the trend.
“We’re getting really good adoption,” says Craig Stilwell, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company’s vice president of worldwide partner strategy and sales.
Companies with a vested interest in the technology aren’t the only ones reporting increased VDI momentum either. Analyst firm Technavio expects global VDI spending to climb at an 11 percent CAGR through 2021.
What’s fueling that growth? Grimsley, Stilwell, and others point to three key factors:
- Enabling technologies that make VDI viable are getting very good very quickly. Those include high-speed 4G networks and high-efficiency protocols like VMware’s Blast Extreme, which debuted last year.
- Implementing VDI on premises is getting cheaper and easier. That’s thanks to the rise of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, which free organizations from the hassle and expense of integrating VDI environments themselves. Prices on HCI offerings are rapidly coming within range of SMBs too. Just last month, to cite a recent example, Dell EMC unveiled a new hyperconverged appliance for organizations with 100 to 500 users called the XC Xpress for VDI that lists for $25,000.
- Affordable options for implementing VDI off premises on someone else’s cloud-based infrastructure are multiplying. VMware’s Horizon Cloud desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution is available for as little as $16 per desktop per month, for instance. According to Grimsley, moreover, a forthcoming Horizon Cloud offering hosted in Microsoft Azure that’s currently being beta tested has been generating intense end-user interest.
“We’ve had to turn customers and partners away,” he says.
Since April, meanwhile, Citrix’s Azure-based XenDesktop Essentials DaaS solution has been selling for just $12 per user per month with a 25-user minimum.
“It offers a lot less flexibility than a full-blown solution, but for a smaller customer you don’t need all those bells and whistles,” Stilwell says. Tens of thousands of SMBs, if not more, are buying subscription-priced virtual desktops via the 2,000+ partners in the Citrix Service Provider program too, he adds.
“It’s the fastest-growing thing at Citrix for the last three years at least,” says Stilwell, who contends that facts like those belie the notion that VDI is belatedly approaching a tipping point.
“There’s already been a tipping point,” he says.
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