Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Aruna Ravichandran

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

VDI or Cloudtop Computing?

Virtualization is one of those things that has kept IT shops humming over the last few years


LOVE AND… NOT LOVE

There are two interesting and complimentary rules in IT

  1. When a technology takes off, vendors will keep trying to find “the next big thing” to earn more of your business.
  2. Until something takes off, most IT staff doesn’t have time to worry about it.

Virtualization is one of those things that has kept IT shops humming over the last few… several… Many years. When it first came out I was in an R&D group at a mid-sized company, and from that perspective was able to grasp the early adopter use case and run with it. That use case is still one of the primary drivers for virtualization in the data center, though it is growing less important as other uses come to the fore – that was consolidation of underutilized servers, which enterprises had a lot of, because budgeting was by project and Larry Ellison’s famous “Lots of little servers” comment had become IT staff’s very real nightmare.


GEAR UP THE HYPE ENGINES!

No sooner had IT departments found a solid way to put virtualized servers to work than vendors started creating/rebranding/vaporizing The Next Big Thing. I played with a virtualized firewall long before any IT person saw a need for one, storage virtualization got a shot in the arm and vendors started pushing it in their talks – and how it helped server virtualization, everything was going to be virtualized… and one day may well be.

And one of the things that vendors jumped on that IT just hasn’t really bought yet is Virtualized Desktops. Vendors hype it, they pay analyst firms for quotes about the wave of the future, but you don’t see 10 bazillion enterprises running Virtual Desktops. Does that mean Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a failure? Not. Quite. Yet.

There is an interesting bit where the changing infrastructure of today sometimes points the way to the technologies of tomorrow. Apple’s change to BSD and the ensuing release of all sorts of devices running the “Apple” OS as iSOMETHING is a good example of that phenomenon. That may be what we’re going to see with VDI.


HRRMMM… CLOUDY

If a large portion of your infrastructure moves to the cloud (and by cloud I mean internal or external, just so you know how I’m using the term), then you will have a lot of apps that can be accessed via web browser. Some entire groups may be able to move to the browser for all but a few categories of work. In the case of external cloud, I don’t think we’re to the point where you could save next year’s business plan out to the cloud and rest assured that it was as secure as in your data center. There are those who would argue with me, but I’m guessing none of them are security peeps.

That means that for some groups in some organizations there will soon only be limited need of internal systems. If your need for compute power is dropping per-user because it has been shifted to a need “in the cloud”, then it starts to make sense to take the next logical step and virtualize those people’s desktops so that when they ARE running a fat app, it’s not on their machine. Why would you  do that? Well, I think that VMWare has done a good job of showing the benefits in terms of security and compliance with software licensing, I haven’t seen anyone talk about the benefits to managing the flow of hardware. Want a Mac? Cool, we no longer have to maintain software on it, just AV and VDI client. I think that’s a bigger benefit than is immediately obvious, adding a desktop OS means a whole lot of work to make sure all the apps run on it, but it doesn’t mean that if your desktops are virtualized.

And using VDI for remote workers means no more work installing and updating desktops and laptops all over the world. Run updates in the data center, and they’ll get them next time they log in.


WHAT IT MAY LOOK LIKE

Looking into the crystal ball, I see three distinct groups falling out of this. Those who can be 100% cloud applications, those who can make use of VDI for the few applications they need on the desktop, and thoseVDI.With.Cloud who still require a fat desktop. Let’s look at how to figure this bit out.

  • Cloudtop – those whose systems have been moved to the cloud, that don’t have sensitive documents to work on (assuming public cloud) and don’t do a ton of traveling.
  • Virtual Desktop – those who have a few apps in the cloud but still need to get at some legacy applications, or those who need to work on sensitive materials with an external cloud provider.
  • Fat Desktop – those who need to do a lot of really intensive drawing work (architects with AutoCAD for example) or those who travel a lot. This is also the default, since everyone is here today.

There’s always something though. If you’re going to implement cloudtop computing or virtual desktop infrastructure, you’ll need to have a fat pipe out of your data center. Let’s face it, this is mostly traffic over and above what you’re seeing today. For every document saved to the network there is at least one that never leaves the local hard disk. The same is true for most other computing needs. In a VDI infrastructure, ALT-TAB carries a network burden, for example. For employees on the same physical network as the virtual servers or internal cloud, this is not a big deal unless your network is already near maxed out. For remote employees – even at another company office – it starts to become a burden on the infrastructure. Products like F5’s WOM or EDGE Gateway can go a long way to resolving these issues, but you do need to consider them before implementing.


PROBLEM –> SOLUTION –> PROBLEM. AIN’T IT GRAND?

And maybe that’s why there aren’t a ton of enterprises that have moved to virtual desktops. You can’t know what the network impacts are until you try it full-bore, and at that point you’ve paid for the project, so can you rightfully go back? That is probably making more enterprises skittish than the perception that we all need our own fat desktop. Well, that and the odd issue. I’m a remote worker, but I would still need full USB support and ability to browse from my laptop so that I could upload images I take in the line of duty. This need already reduces the potential savings to my employer of putting me on a truly thin client.

As you can see, the future in this space is still pretty undecided. I think it would be cool to have one largish enterprise – say larger mid-size – completely virtualize desktops and then tell us all how it went, three months, six months, and a year into the deployment. That’s probably what it will take to truly spark interest, perhaps VDI vendors like VMWare and Microsoft should consider sponsoring such a project.


ME? AN OPINION? YEP.

My personal opinion? That it is a non-starter. That’s a very gut reaction subject to change based upon all of the above, but imagine not having access to your work laptop or desktop because it was replaced with something smaller and slower, and the apps ran from the network. Not some apps, all of them. Network connectivity would be a constant concern, doing without local apps would be a pain… And we’re spoiled. The natural conclusion when you  think about it for a while is “well… I could, but that’s really a niche space for someone else…” Except if we all think it’s for someone else, then it’s not viable, now is it?

But I’ve been wrong before, and as I alluded to above, one solid mid-sized company with a huge success story could change the equation entirely. I just don’t know how, at the current cost of laptops and desktops, you can reap the savings of ROI. Though the peace of mind that you know what apps your users have installed is appealing, that’s not ROI, it’s risk avoidance.

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@CloudExpo Stories
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, will provide a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. Together we will solve a machine learning problem and find an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intellige...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.