A virtual desktop technology rapper feud: Will DaaS win out?

Earl Follis

Although the "year of VDI" never really came about, the desktop virtualization industry has seen many changes over the past year. Cloud computing, the consumerization of IT and improved graphics delivery have all contributed to a better virtual desktop experience -- making virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) viable in more organizations.

To help you get a handle on the big picture of VDI, we posed this question to five desktop virtualization experts:

What technologies or trends had the biggest impact on VDI in 2013?

Earl Follis: People talk. And I like to talk back to people. I occasionally have lunch or sip an adult beverage with my distinguished colleague, Ed Tittel. Lately, Ed and I have been discussing -- and cussing -- the current state and future prospects of VDI versus Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Our conclusions have turned into something of an East Coast-West Coast-style rapper feud, with each of us believing in a different path for these technologies.

Ed is of the opinion that there is plenty of room under the virtual desktop technology tent for both VDI as well as DaaS. I understand his point that, technically, neither technology overwhelms the other in terms of usability and feature sets. These are two relatively equal technologies as far as capabilities are concerned, depending on your requirements and budget. But I still have my doubts that VDI and DaaS will peacefully co-exist for years to come.

Now that viable, mature VDI platforms are on the market, there still has not been a huge push among Fortune 1000 companies to implement large-scale VDI environments. There are as many reasons for the slow adoption of production VDI as there are companies considering VDI. My research concludes that the complexity of VDI, the upfront costs to build the necessary infrastructure and a murky return on investment proposition are the most common VDI roadblocks.

Where Desktop as a Service shines

Desktop as a Service offers relief on all three of those fronts.

Though the two virtual desktop technologies are in a technical dead heat, DaaS will likely become the standard of the future because of the low upfront costs of implementation, the fact that DaaS infrastructure is spread across multiple tenants in a cloud (keeping ongoing costs low) and the fact that companies won't have to train and pay for VDI expertise that is very difficult to find and retain.

I agree with Ed that there is room for both technologies, but I believe that the market will eventually speak and that DaaS will be the winning virtual desktop technology in the long run. Perhaps Ed and I will instigate this brewing rapper feud (my rapper name could be Big-E!) based on our differing opinions about the future of virtual desktops. Or maybe I'll order us both another beverage so that we can all just get along…

Stay tuned for more responses to this question as we determine the biggest trends of the year.

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