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VDI in 2020 will feature cloud, workspaces

2019 brought a lot of changes to the VDI industry, and 2020 will likely do the same. Check out these expert predictions for VDI market trends in 2020.

In David Bowie's 1971 hit "Changes," he sang, 'turn to face the strange.' Every year brings new unfamiliar territory that IT pros must adapt to with ease, and the VDI market is no exception.

In 2019, the VDI market experienced a variety of changes, including an increased focus on the cloud and digital workspaces. Major VDI vendors, such as Citrix, VMware and Microsoft, touted new management and security features to their VDI offerings. In September, Microsoft entered the desktop-as-a-service race with Windows Virtual Desktop, an offering likely to change the trajectory of the VDI market.

Similarly, VDI in 2020 will be a year of change and growth, according to five experts. These experts predicted a continuation of cloud and digital workspace adoption, as well as a renewed interest in security, among other trends.

VDI in 2020 will inevitably bring changes, so let's take a look at these expert predictions.

Jo Harder, cloud architect at Finastra

VDI in 2020 will be all about cloud. Many organizations dipped their toes in the water in 2019 with proof of concepts or small-scale deployments, but as the cloud matures to a suitably stable state, much larger deployments will be the norm going forward.

Jo Harder, cloud architect at FinastraJo Harder

For organizations that were on the fence about VDI, the benefits of cloud-hosted VDI will become even more apparent in 2020, as it is easier to deploy and maintain. Windows Virtual Desktop is a wildcard, however, as its recent release has caused some organizations to rethink how to move forward with cloud-hosted VDI.

Johan van Amersfoort, EUC architect at ITQ Consultancy

I declared 2019 to finally be the true "year of VDI." The technology has made a giant leap in the last couple of years in terms of maturity. Rapid cloning, graphical acceleration, user environment management and proper application delivery methodologies have caused the TCO to drop and financially driven business cases to become positive. But where is VDI going in 2020?

Johan van Amersfoort, EUC architect at ITQ Consultancy Johan van Amersfoort

The first thing that we will see is nonpersistent VDI become less dominant. Creating true nonpersistency is hard. Most companies have a majority of nonpersistent desktops but still use persistent desktops for those use cases that are hard to virtualize. VMware has recognized this and made some changes to Workspace ONE UEM so it is possible to manage virtual desktops in the same way as physical ones -- through the modern management APIs -- but with the added value of things such as rapid cloning. Would it then still make sense to achieve nonpersistency? Or should companies consider going persistent for everything?

Another thing that will probably take off is Linux VDI. Linux has been deployed in niche markets and specific departments before, but with Linux support being almost equal to Windows support on VDI platforms, this will become more popular and will enable more use cases. Especially in the fields of data science, healthcare and IT, Linux is becoming more popular and sometimes even a standard. Organizations can repurpose a VDI platform for desktops to handle computational workloads such as deep learning workloads due to the Linux support in VMware Horizon.

Chris Twiest, technology officer at RawWorks

Chris Twiest, technology officer at RawWorksChris Twiest

We will see two major trends in end-user computing (EUC). The first is moving more of the virtual desktop workloads to the public cloud and adopting more cloud services such as Windows Virtual Desktop and Citrix Managed Desktops. The second trend that will happen in 2020 is moving more to a user-centric intelligent workspace. This intelligent workspace can be a web portal such as Citrix Workspace and VMware Workspace One or an application such as [Microsoft] Teams. In 2020, end users will be able to do more from these portals like register PTO in Workday. By adding more features and API connections to the intelligent workspace, organizations can save a lot of time and be more productive.

Marius Sandbu, chief cloud evangelist at EVRY

One of the biggest recent changes that will likely affect the VDI industry is the introduction of multi-user Windows 10 in Microsoft Azure. This change is going to result in more VDI customers on Microsoft Azure, especially in combination with Microsoft workloads. A lot of application vendors will now need to adjust in order to support multi-user version of Windows. The license change, however, makes it easier for customers to adopt Windows Virtual Desktop as their main desktop as a service (DaaS) platform from a cost perspective. More cloud vendors are now able to provide cheaper infrastructure and support different GPU workloads. Vendors such as VMware and Citrix are also building their own offerings using multi-user Windows 10, since they also see an increased adoption of Azure.

Marius Sandbu, chief cloud evangelist at EVRYMarius Sandbu

Another aspect is security. With many customers using more SaaS applications with legacy applications through a VDI platform, the ability to have zero-trust-based access across the entire portfolio becomes challenging. Some of the vendors in the EUC space are building their own security products or have acquired security products that they are building into their VDI platform. For many businesses, VDI is their main "gateway" to applications and data, so being able to have zero-trust mechanisms on the VDI platform is going to be really important. 

Patrick Coble, EUC and security consultant at VDISEC

We will see more of a focus on the actual workspace and less on the traditional Windows desktop and applications. The focus will be on the client experience and creating a faster, more efficient workspace with micro applications and automated workflows for repetitive tasks. Improving a user's day with integration to more third-party systems will be the star of most of the shows, and the workspace arms race will come down to which tool has integrations with the most vendors. Another part of this race will be who makes the most "intelligent" workspace that can help people cut down the number of clicks and logins with SSO with third-party applications.

Patrick Coble, EUC and security consultant at VDISECPatrick Coble

Another focus area for VDI vendors will be analytics. If analytics, dashboards and automated systems can make the administrative and user experience better and more secure, that is a win for everyone involved. All the major VDI vendors have some analytics for security, performance or other workspace-related items and whoever has the most complete offering when it comes to visibility and adaptability should win.

The final VDI focus will be security. Attacks, breaches and leaks are growing every day and don't appear to be slowing down. All the vendors have a good security posture overall, but security isn't normally the star of the show at many conventions in the EUC industry. In 2020, we will see a more clear security message from each vendor to highlight their capabilities.

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What are your predictions for VDI trends in 2020?
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Well, right now, 31% of our end user computing management audience says that they'll be rolling out (more) VDI in 2020.  Gartner, however, isn't forecasting a lot of growth in cloud-based VDI due to cost / pricing issues outweighing the benefits.  They also said that AWS was the leader in cloud hosted desktops.  Lot to chew on there, especially given how bullish the above interviewees are on cloud-hosted desktops.
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