A few years ago, virtual desktops were underpowered and ran on Internet connections that were too slow, but virtual...
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desktop performance is now strong enough that VDI shouldn't hinder user productivity.
At best, VDI implementations previously used shared 1 GbE connections, and processing video and graphics-intensive applications added a lot of latency. The difference in virtual desktop performance was perhaps a second or two at best, but that's enough to eat into user productivity. Plus, the slow speed of Internet connections made remote access a nightmare, especially with apps that require a lot of keystrokes.
Things have changed. In-house operations use 1 GbE connection lines, but they typically have 10 GbE backbones. Compute power is way up, and organizations can use solid-state storage to boost VDI performance. The stream processing is quite a bit better, too, driven by the mobile computing industry and the need to display high-resolution video and other graphics on cheap devices.
Wireless connections are also much faster and more pervasive. In the United States, many companies previously used an 8 Mbps wide area network connection, but that has improved over the last three years, and now most organizations can afford a 24 Mbps connection.
For those reasons, virtual desktop performance in the office and at home is now much more consistent and provides a better user experience. The debate between using physical or virtual desktops is instead shifting toward cost and flexibility.
Adobe and Google provide a good example of the improvement in VDI performance. Google made some tweaks to its Android mobile operating system to speed up Chromebooks, and Adobe figured out how to stream a virtual editing console via HTML5. The result is that companies can now enable video editing with simply a $250 Chromebook or a tablet, plus a low-cost subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.
The fact that such a demanding task can function well over a VDI connection says a lot about the future of virtual desktop performance, and it signifies that someday soon organizations will no longer need traditional desktops in the corporate environment.
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