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Thinking about Virtual Desktop Infrastructure? You Might Want to Think Again

VDI adoption grew during the pandemic to facilitate the shift to remote setups driven by the promise of cost savings.

Upwork’s Third Annual Future Workforce Report projects that 73% of teams will have remote workers by 2028. Over the last few years, disruptions and shifting marketplaces have accelerated the need for flexibility and new ways of working. Enterprises everywhere have turned to digital transformation and emerging technologies to enable remote work and manage their distributed workforce. Remote work can save on costs, increase productivity, improve work-life balance for employees, as well as benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions. However, to get the most out of it, enterprise leaders need to ensure stability and security, and provide a positive employee experience within the digital environment. An important component in this is creating digital workspaces that enable seamless remote work for employees.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization is the technology of creating a virtual version of an end user’s desktop environment and operating system. By separating the desktop environment and its applications from the end user’s computing device or client, it allows a remote employee to access their desktop from any device.

There are three primary models of desktop virtualization:

  1. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), in which the OS runs on a virtual machine (VM) hosted on a server in a data center, and each user has a dedicated VM running its own OS. 
  2. Remote desktop services (RDS), in which users remotely access desktops through the Microsoft Windows Server OS, via the Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol. 
  3. Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), in which VMs are hosted on a cloud-based backend by a third-party provider.

Of the three types of desktop virtualization, VDI remains the most popular and widely adopted. According to a recent research report, the global VDI market size & share is expected to reach $30 billion by 2026 from $11.7 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 17%. VDI adoption increased dramatically during the pandemic-triggered lockdowns—to facilitate the shift to remote setups, and driven by the promise of cost savings, improved productivity, and better security. Since then, however, most organizations have discovered that VDI solutions bring a unique set of challenges, calling into question their value proposition. 

The Pitfalls of VDI

Exorbitant and Unpredictable Costs

The total cost of ownership for VDI solutions extends much beyond the upfront prices and the cost savings promised by “thin client computing.” Hidden costs form a large part of the TCO of VDI, accounting for virtually 35-40% of the cost of virtual desktop integration. 

An organization implementing a VDI solution has to invest in the required hardware for the infrastructure, which itself is a recurring cost since it needs periodic replacements. This results in a “greater capital outlay” than initial estimations. 

Licensing is another significant expenditure required to run a VDI solution in a way that adheres to compliance. Moreover, licensing with virtualization can be complex and legal errors on the part of IT can result in the organization having to pay hefty fines during vendor audits. Moreover, most VDI solutions won’t readily be compatible with all the apps an organization might need. Finding a secondary solution to such a problem will further add to the expenditure.

Especially for remote-first or remote-only organizations, with a large distributed workforce, the costs of VDI far outweigh the benefits. Finally, it is important to factor in the cost of the IT personnel needed for running a VDI solution smoothly—maintaining the software and hardware, and supporting users. This includes the cost of hiring IT staff with the relevant skill sets, training the existing IT team, and/or paying VDI vendors for premium support.

Poor Performance and User Experience

A digital workspace has to serve the end user, i.e. your employees, and poor performance is inexcusable. Since storage infrastructure is a large chunk of VDI expenditure, IT teams are often forced to load a large number of virtual desktops in as little storage space as possible, to make the solution cost-effective. This creates input/output latency and contention issues; requires more power and cooling resources; strains the network while handling traffic. Many organizations also resort to consolidating data centers into a few regional locations to increase cost savings, which can increase latency further based on distance, since the desktop data has to travel between the data center and the client. 

Organizations that shift to VDI solutions often use their pre-existing network infrastructure and hardware components that have not been created to factor in VDI implementation. This can also lead to poor performance, e.g. servers that cannot deliver the requisite processing demands. Network latency can affect user experience by making it difficult to run multimedia apps and larger files. Workarounds are often complicated; for example, running video players on the client to circumvent the remote protocol in delivering video streams to the client, thus negating the point of “virtualization.” 

The many shortcomings of VDI solutions when it comes to performance contribute to an overall less-than-desirable quality of end-user experience—affecting employee productivity and, ultimately, business goals. 

Desktop Management Complexity 

A fundamental value proposition of VDI is “simplified desktop management,” by replacing multiple independent physical desktops and allowing IT to centrally manage a few desktop images. This is supposed to make tasks such as updating software or applying security patches easier. However, VDI management is not limited to maintaining desktop images and extends to servers, networks, software, thin clients, etc. To deliver quality performance and reliability, VDI managers have to manage ports, subnets, protocols, and VLANs. 

Overall, VDI complicates IT management, in direct contradiction to what it promises to do—in areas such as resource allocation, managing desktop images, moving virtual machines, maintaining hardware/patch software, as well as scaling infrastructure. Moreover, virtualizing software is a tricky task—with certain types being harder to virtualize than others, e.g. legacy and specialty apps.

Finally, continued VDI implementation depends on the system being “fault tolerant” to avoid “single points of failure” in the server, storage, or network infrastructures. 

Compromised Security 

It would be untrue to say that VDI hasn’t solved many problems for businesses, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19. But one area where it fails abjectly is security. While VDI is often incorrectly positioned as a guarantor of security, this could not be farther from the truth. The most common use cases of VDI include “bring your own desktop” programs, remote work, and vendor access, wherein the VDI accesses sensitive corporate apps and data. However, VDI solutions are ill-equipped to handle the vulnerabilities created in off-premise setups. 

They have given businesses “the illusion of isolation,” encouraging employees to connect devices to VDI desktop/apps but without ensuring any security checks or standards. This is extremely risky and increases the attack surface area of enterprises. Cybercriminals only need to gain access to the end-user's personal device to have full remote control over the VDI desktop/apps. From here on, data breaches, data leaks, and other forms of attacks on security become a cakewalk. Moreover, it is difficult to run even antivirus software on VDI, since it puts additional load on systems if the software scans multiple virtual desktops simultaneously. 

Thus, implementing VDI in your organization creates massive security concerns. At the same time, stakes are much higher, since a single breach can compromise hundreds or thousands of virtual desktops in one go. 

Source: Mark Bower, “Are Desktops Doomed? Trends in Digital Workspaces, VDI, and DaaS,” Enterprise Strategy Group, May 2020.

Evren: A Smart Alternative

At a time when remote access has become essential for many organizations, the old solutions are fast becoming outdated, expensive, or inefficient. Enterprise leaders are increasingly searching for cost-effective solutions that ensure minimal business disruptions. That search ends with Evren—the smart alternative to desktop virtualization. 

A desktop OS purpose-built for enterprise to streamline IT and enhance security, Evren offers an OS isolation solution that is deployed on the user’s endpoint devices but managed centrally from the cloud. Compared to VDI, Evren offers better cost-efficiency; improved user experience, with less latency issues; and complete end-point security.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

At $99 per device annually, the Evren OS is already at a price point vastly lower than the base price of most virtualization solutions out there. For instance, Citrix—one of the prominent names in the VDI industry—starts its offerings at $15 per user month, amounting to a total of $180 per user annually.

What’s more, Evren helps your organization saves on infrastructure costs and post-deployment management, responsible for the bulk of the unanticipated costs associated with VDI. You can not only save on license costs, hardware costs, and manpower costs, but also reduce risks for your business—thereby avoiding costs associated with security attacks. Switching to Evren also does not require any additional skills or training, which means you can continue to rely on your existing IT team and save on training or hiring costs.

With Evren OS, you get what you see. There are no hidden costs, and the upfront cost is the total cost, unlike VDI solutions, so you can avoid budget disruptions caused by ongoing, unplanned costs—the perfect cost-effective remote solution.

Improve End-User Experience

Evren works on all laptops & PCs, using an automated installer, with a deployment time of only 30 minutes. The OS has a user-friendly interface and requires no end-user learning curve. The employees can switch swiftly and easily,and continue to focus on their actual work, instead of spending valuable time adapting to a new and daunting digital workspace.

Being a cloud-based OS, Evren offers a smooth user experience, with no lag or latency issues even while running large files or heavier apps such as those for video streaming. Operating on Evren allows for easy handling of workload and traffic, with no dependence on a limited storage infrastructure. Moreover, Evren supports all popular and widely used enterprise apps—from communication, development, to productivity—across sectors, thus avoiding the hassle of secondary solutions or workarounds.

All in all, Evren is built to reduce work disruptions for employees, facilitate productivity, and give your employees a frictionless digital working space—to support an agile, modern, scalable business.

Simplify Central IT Management

Evren lets IT centrally manage all aspects of user, device, browser, and application policies with a browser-based point-and-click interface—simplifying processes and making the experience smooth for both IT and end users. 

Through Evren’s interface, a single IT admin can remotely manage multiple remote devices, as well as all configuration and policies, such as printers, USB storage, network settings, VPNs, and Bluetooth. It also allows extensive device reporting and efficient management of all installed applications, with an automatic update on all devices.

With the Evren OS, you bypass the hassle of managing a vast infrastructure and hiring skilled resources, making IT management easier than ever before.

Ensure Complete Endpoint Security

Unlike the vulnerabilities created by VDI solutions, Evren is not only a secure solution but it also actively takes care of your endpoint security with built-in features that protect your devices and organization against cyber attacks. 

As the first line of defense, Evren offers full disk encryption, to prevent misuse if a device is lost or stolen as well as privilege access management, which allows only the IT administrator to have admin access through device-specific passwords valid only for 24 hours. Other features such as URL filtering and application sandboxing are aimed at blocking out harmful and malicious content, and isolating and restricting attacks if an application is infected. 

By minimizing end-user negligence and securing your organization’s valuable data and intellectual property, Evren gives your workforce the peace of mind to focus on their real business goals.

Update to a managed, secure, cost-effective, and user-friendly desktop OS made for the enterprise. Request a demo today