The advent of a multitude of very cool ‘smart’ devices is a nightmare for the hard pressed IT department in lots of organisations today. Regardless of the edicts of the security manager, people are increasingly bringing their devices to work and using them (can’t bear to be without your MacBook Pro?)
Users are increasingly no longer happy to work on a 5-year-old laptop, running an OS that is 1 or even 2 iterations old, with ‘clunky’ performance – whilst sitting idle at home is the latest offering from <insert name of your favourite hardware vendor here>, which is ‘banned’ from the workplace for security reasons.
So, what if you could bring your device to work, connect to the corporate network securely in one window and ‘toggle’ to your own ‘personal’ window, when you need to do a spot of internet shopping (in your lunch hour only, of course) or book that hotel in the country you have been promising your partner for months?
What if there were no connection between the corporate network and the hard-drive of your (admittedly very snazzy) device, just in case you have let those anti-virus definitions lapse?
What if you could not download data to your device at all (unless the IT department specifically allowed you to do so)?
What if all you needed to do to perform this magic was an RDP agent for your <MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android device…> (or if it’s a Windows device nothing at all, as it was already built-in)?
…but wait, doesn’t all this already exist?
Luckily for the aforementioned ‘hard pressed IT department’, it does. VDI offers exactly this, without requiring the IT department to invent and then manage a whole new set of business processes to secure and manage devices that the company doesn’t actually own.
As an added bonus, that very same VDI desktop suddenly offers remote and home workers easy and secure access to their corporate desktop, over the internet, from any device.
A client recently commented to me that the main thing driving user adoption of VDI was that it no longer required people to use the existing slow and cumbersome SSL VPN solution to get remote access from home.
I am an un-ashamed fan of VDI – I just love the flexibility of being able to access my desktop lots of different devices (none of which I have to carry, unless I want to). Of all the great features of VDI, this is one of the best from a user perspective – but I strongly believe that getting lots of end-point devices ‘off the books’ of the company makes it one of the best features for the IT department too.
But doesn’t this all cost LOTS of money?
As the price of PC’s has come down, so too has the cost of VDI. The new generation of VDI brokers are remarkably ‘light’ in their use of infrastructure (server, storage etc,.) and the good ones avoid expensive SQL licenses and so forth. This means the business case for adoption is starting to add up at very low user numbers, in spite of Microsoft’s very confused and complex licensing (which just got worse, not better, with the Companion Device License – of which more another day).
The cost of building a VDI environment can be very close to the cost of buying laptops, whilst being much cheaper to support and run, resulting in a very healthy saving in overall total cost of ownership.
So, happy users, happy IT department, happy CFO … are laptop manufacturers the only losers here? Perhaps this explains Dell’s recent big moves into the Cloud with their acquisition of Wyse and their new alliance with Desktone, amongst others. It looks like a smart move from here….