I have to admit that it is slightly irritating to fly home from ‘yet another’ client meeting and stumble across ‘yet another’ discussion (OK, let’s call it rant) about VDI on twitter or blogs. Especially when the meeting was actually a positive one that included VDI – so yes – my opinion upfront – there is such a thing as ” successful VDI” (and note that I’m absolutely not saying all projects are)
There are good and even great (critical) discussions and articles with absolutely valid points like this one (discussing VDI’s obvious challenges and shortcomings) – and then there are others, rants driven by frustration, inability to position, feeling mislead and – IMHO the most dangerous ones … are the geniuses and visionaries who already live in 2015 and seem to easily dismiss everything that is today’s (boring) reality.
Don’t get me wrong, we (the industry) need thought leaders – and the best of us all have a visionary in them – but don’t assume genius = flawless/always right. Genius actually = high risk – yes, with potentially high returns. Dangerous, because thought leaders create followers – unfortunately often following blindly, amplifying and distorting originally educated, valid points until they become false generalisations.
Ultimately it’s our own (IT vendors’) fault, we are hyping up, creating bubbles, “re-inventing” our portfolios (translate into “re-badging”) and push our own agendas – so I completely understand where the backlash is coming from. With VDI we have surpassed the hype curve, face adoption and with it a level of disillusion. And suddenly VDI-bashing becomes … well … fashionable.
But enough of my rant, as you know, I am not associated with a VDI vendor, agree with many of the raised technical concerns, I work with server virtualization and cloud environments (so have nothing to “lose” if VDI quietly faded away) but here is my honest view and to make it as short as possible I’ll just paste without changes the comments I posted on Simon Crosby’s blog: (also check out Tal Klein’s great comments here)
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“To me this boils down to: (and I’ll keep it short as I have the tendency to drivel on)
- Are we trying to solve a problem which does not exists? No. (so I slightly disagree with how you portrait the current state of physical endpoints – time spent on image management is unsustainable for many of my clients)
- Is the answer to the problem always VDI? No.
- Can the answer be VDI? Yes, as a tactical solution for specific use cases where TS does not fit.
- Can VDI be a strategic approach – yes, as a stepping stone (and I am aware of the inherent contradiction here) to enable logical separation of OS and app, mobile & user-centric app delivery.
- Why VDI as the “one fit all”: 1) because the VDI “vendor says so” – 2) because the clients prefers the simplicity of one architecture that can (potentially) cover all use cases (so both dubious but reality)
Bottom line – I can’t fail VDI completely – VDI has a space as tactical building block alongside TS (and others) – combined as strategic hybrid approach to facilitate future app delivery models. (all simplified in the interest of time)
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This really sums it up for me – unless I’m working in an under-developed / left-behind part of the world – then todays reality for most is not a single “Nirvana-like” solution with a unified GUI, integrated modular sub-components, driving all use-cases of End-user-computing (or ideally all IT services) from the same platform.
If that was the case quite frankly architects would be out of the job. That’s what we do, match use cases with suitable technologies.
Clients have unsustainable problems today – the requirement for tactical solutions in the search of strategic ones is today’s reality, not everyone can “continue and wait”.
And yes, we absolutely should do that with a vision of how to enable emerging approaches. But too often have I come recently into client meetings instructed and prepared to talk about “cloud”, vSphere 5, SCVMM 2012 or RHEV3 and the client kicked off with e.g. “let’s fix today’s problem first – we need to migrate off vSphere 3.5 – so we want a vSphere 4.x (not 5) architecture from you …” (that particular one was one of the largest retailers in the UK just 2 weeks ago).
What’s my point ..? We have a tendency to get ahead of ourselves, forget what today’s problems in the accounts are, we sell one idea then happily move off to the next “fancy” thing, sometimes leaving the client with the mess and giving them a kick in the teeth by turning around saying things like “yes, this VDI thing is rubbish – I could have told you that in the beginning” – “you should really go with TS” or “you should wait for HTML5″ – replacing the same mistaken “one fit all” approach with another label.
The question is not “Does VDI work?” (of course it “does”) but rather is “Where does VDI fit?” and “Does it work for you?”
It’t should be one of our tools in a set of possible solutions to a client-specifc problem, neither the de facto answer to everything nor discounted by default.
If we sold VDI as the only answer then we were wrong (not architects or consultants) to begin with.
It is easy to criticise – the art is to make it work …