Take Another Look at VDI
Big advances, especially in storage technology, may make it more viable than you realize.
I was the first Editor of Virtualization Review, way back in 2008 when my company decided to go with this crazy idea of starting up a print publication in the midst of a huge contraction in the IT publishing industry. Magazines, especially in the computer field, were teetering on the edge of the cliff, wondering how to make money in the online age (and in many ways, we still are).
I'm happy to say that we're still around, seven years later, which is an eon in Internet years. Looking back at those early days, one of the articles of faith was that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was going to take off, just like server virtualization did. In fact, the very first Editor's Note from that March 2008 issue stated, "Many analysts feel that desktop virtualization is the kiss of death for today's PCs." Another prediction bites the dust.
When I took over again as editor after a long hiatus of working on other magazines, I was surprised to find out that VDI was still relegated to specialized niches of the industry. Digging further showed me why the promise of VDI was broken: storage. Traditional storage-area networks and network-attached storage couldn't handle the workload, and became the problem, more so than the fantastically complex software that enables VDI.
But many of those issues appear to be solved, or at least minimized to the point that productive VDI can occur beyond the edge cases like labs and schools. All-flash arrays are here, and work great. Beyond that, software-defined storage and converged and hyperconverged systems are smoothing the pathways that enable the kind of IOPS necessary for enterprise VDI.
I just hope those who wrote off VDI as a pipe dream for all but the most specialized circumstances take another look. As I found out, things have changed. A lot.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.