Mental Ward

Blog archive

Should You Hold Off on VDI?

Brian Madden has an interesting discussion going about virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI, also known as hosted desktop). His premise is that while Citrix is generally thought to be ahead of VMware in the VDI space, owing much to its work with Presentation Server (now XenApp) over the past 15 or so years, VMware's recent announcements about VMware View and vClient will help it take the lead, with Citrix trailing.

Brian then goes on to list what he sees as the five technical requirements for a comprehensive, usable VDI solution that will truly take off. Next he compares solutions from each vendor (Citrix and VMware) and how they stack up in providing that functionality. He concludes that Citrix is 1/5 of the way there, and VMware, when its announced upgrades have been implemented, is 2/5 or 3/5 of the way there. Here are his five must-haves:

  1. We need remote display protocols that support ALL applications.
  2. We need an offline / client-based capability.
  3. We need to be able to let many users share a common disk image.
  4. We need real user environment management / user workspace management.
  5. We need users to be able to install / package their own applications.

All that analysis leads to what I think is a startling conclusion. Since they both fall so far short, Brian states: "Unless you have a very specific tactical need, DO NOT USE VDI TODAY!"

Brian goes on to state that in his opinion, all five capabilities will be available by mid-2010, but to avoid VDI until then.

This especially interested me since we're doing a VDI cover package in our December/January print issue, including a thorough review of XenDesktop and an analysis of the current VDI landscape.

I disagree with Brian's premise while agreeing with his facts. VDI has come a long way in a short time, and has significant benefits for an organization, from the admins to the end users. Yeah, it's far from perfect, as he points out. But it's like saying, "Don't use Hyper-V yet because it doesn't have live migration." Although it's true that Hyper-V won't offer live migration until 2010, it still has many benefits for the right organization, and shouldn't be dismissed because it's not feature-complete yet.

Hey, my iPhone doesn't yet offer turn-by-turn navigation with the GPS, but I'm not about to ditch it because of that missing feature.

Questions for you, readers:

  • How important is the offline capability in a VDI solution for your environment?
  • How important is it for users to install/package their own applications?

It seems to me that keeping users from doing just that is a benefit, rather than a drawback, of VDI. Since Brian lists it as a key feature, I'm interested to know, from your perspective, if you agree or disagree.

Give me your thoughts, or post them here.

Posted by Keith Ward on 12/01/2008 at 12:48 PM


Subscribe on YouTube