It’s the most wonderful time of year! One of our favorite traditions is to review trends from the past twelve months and look ahead at what’s coming down the pipeline. The article below, written by our CEO, Karen Gondoly, was recently featured in Virtual Strategy Magazine. Have a read for five VDI trends to keep tabs on in the New Year! 


2017 New Year _ VDI.pngI don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more excited about some of the recent advances in the VDI space.  Having been in this business for almost ten years, I’ve seen many changes take place. In 2016 alone, we saw the potential of OpenStack as a platform for virtual desktops, a plethora of new technology geared towards hosting graphics heavy workloads, increased OS diversity, the emergence of new vendors and even the end of well-known products like vWorkspace.

Looking ahead, 2017 is brimming with possibilities, and a number of technology developments and trends are heating up, all of which could be essential for enterprises looking to meet the ever-increasing demands around mobility, security, and workplace flexibility.

Here are five to keep your eye on:

1. The Shift Towards a Shrinking Stack with Deconstructed VDI

For years, the key players in the VDI market sold full-stack solutions that included hypervisors to host virtual desktops, connection brokers to handle assignments, display protocols to connect users to their desktops, security gateways to tunnel users into the network, and a host of other components. But with the rise of software-defined datacenters, cloud, and hyperconverged hardware, IT has more ways to improve business processes, lower cost, and work more efficiently.

By artistically, realistically, and technically separating components that make sense you can make IT more flexible, your datacenter more future-proof, and your end users more productive. And that is deconstructed VDI. It takes the resource layer out of the VDI stack, allowing you to mix and match hosting environments to best meet your needs. Go ahead and place some virtual desktops in AWS, run some RDS sessions in Azure, build a private OpenStack cloud, and wrap it all together with the vSphere servers already in your datacenter. The key to deconstructed VDI is that you bring all those pieces together to form a single, coherent system managed by a smaller VDI stack.

Deconstructed VDI allows you to keep your options open when it comes to your resource layer, and even change where you host your resources, over time. Essentially, it narrows down your VDI stack to a connection broker, display protocol, and gateway.

This trend is certainly one to watch!

2. Taking HTML 5 VDI Clients to the Next Level

HTML5 VDI clients are popping up like daisies. Over recent years, many of the vendors in the VDI space have built customized HTML5 clients for accessing remote desktops in their stacks, and the number of independent HTML5 RDP gateways on the market is pretty remarkable.

These clients check many of the boxes you need to satisfy end users. They are a clientless solution, simplifying rollout. End users can connect to their desktop from any device of their choosing, including mobile devices of all sorts, enabling BYOD initiatives. And, by nature of being a gateway, they can provide remote access.

New technologies that can improve the performance of HTML5-based clients are on the rise. For example, WebAssembly gives you access to a set of low-level building blocks that, potentially, you can use to build your HTML5 VDI client. It’s a replacement for the JavaScript component that renders the remote session.

Can WebAssembly take HTML5 VDI clients to the next level? I’m squarely in the realm of conjecture, here, but it’s an interesting realm. WebAssembly is emerging as a standard and is backed by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla. Experimental versions of their Web browsers now support WebAssembly, and the performance of the demo is impressive.

Will it catch on, and what other advances are on the way? We’ll have to see what the New Year brings on this front!

3. Hyperconverged Infrastructure for VDI

Hyperconverged Infrastructures (HCI) seem to be where it’s at. Just this year, both HPE and Cisco announced they’re jumping into the HCI pool and making big waves for incumbents like Nutanix and SimpliVity. If it’s time to refresh the hardware in your datacenter, maybe one of these hyperconverged systems is for you, particularly if that datacenter is hosting VDI.

A hyperconverged infrastructure integrates compute, storage, networking, and virtualization resources into a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor, all managed by a common software toolset. HCI is an evolution of converged systems, but instead of buying a chassis with a variety of hardware for different infrastructure functions, everything is squished into a single unit.

The inherit benefits of HCI are particularly interesting for VDI workloads, where storage configuration and costs historically complicated VDI deployments. With everything wrapped into a single box, and controlled by software, now, when you need more capacity, you just add another box.

In the ever-changing desktop virtualization space, hyperconverged infrastructure may just be the biggest thing since sliced bread.

4. Enterprises Demand Cloud-Based Workspace Solutions that Can Scale

For the past few years, we’ve had a front row seat at watching the Desktops-as-a-Service (DaaS) market grow. With traction gaining in the SMB sector, larger enterprises are now looking to join the fray.  For enterprises, full-fledged cloud-based workspace solutions may very well be the wave of the future. That said, delivering desktops to a large-scale environment can be tricky and stakes are high. Advances in connection broker technology are playing a key role in addressing the demands for enterprise DaaS customers, allowing them to take advantage of public cloud offerings like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure or from a private OpenStack Cloud.

A connection broker can be used to spin up batches of desktops, and assign those desktops out to users based on policies.  For complex use cases, a connection broker can satisfy advanced workflows that require desktop pools, persistent and non-persistent desktops, multi-tenancy and capacity management.

Virtual workspaces hosted in the cloud are certainly here to stay and more complete toolsets are helping to make them an everyday reality for larger deployments.

5. Choosing Vendor Neutral Solutions to Achieve Creative VDI Deployments

Throughout my time at Leostream, I have seen my fair share of creative VDI rollouts. I thought I had seen it all, but things just keep getting more and more interesting.
Now more than ever, there seems to be a focus on having flexible and centrally managed VDI environments. Because, who doesn’t want to take advantage of technology they already have while exploring what’s new?

It’s all about options. Companies these days want to have the option to host desktops in whatever platform they choose — whether they want a virtual or physical infrastructure, a publicly or privately hosted data center. Plus, sometimes they need the ability to support both Windows or Linux operating system, and a variety of display protocols. Do you want to investigate cloud desktops or new hardware form factors like HPE Moonshot Systems while still leveraging your existing VDI stack?  Do you have a mixture of hypervisors, or a mixture of virtual and physical hosted desktops? Perhaps you want to repurpose a fleet of old PCs. Vendor neutrality helps to keep these options open.

By no means is this a new trend in the world of VDI, but it is certainly getting more important with each passing year. Not only are VDI adopters looking to future proof their stacks, but they are taking advantage of vendor neutral solutions and getting creative with their deployments.