The promise of powerful cloud workspace is closer to us than we thought
When I wrote about VDIs recently, I hoped that we’d see widespread adoption of Cloud workspaces or virtual desktops in a few years, but according to Clarity Channel Advisors, I might not have to wait very long—Is the Forecast for Cloud Workspace Clearing?—because acording to their data 2016 is going to be the breakout year for VDI and Cloud workspaces. If this turns out to be true, then 2016 could be the beginning of a new era in client computing. An era where what you have on your desk matters less than what is on your screen (as a virtual connection).
The findings come from a tool Clarity Channel Advisors created called the Cloud Clarity Score that has gathered data from over 5200 customers and service providers on their “cloud readiness”. The tool is supposed to help people determine if they are ready for the cloud already or if they have some work to do. The scientist in me has to point out some self-selection bias (if you’re already thinking about the cloud you’d be more likely to use a tool like this), but the data show that there isn’t just a big opportunity for cloud workspaces, but also many SMBs already have infrastructure in place to support it. With VMWare and Amazon already established players in this space and Microsoft rumored to be launching an Azure-based tool in the near future, there is a good arguement for cloud workspaces next year. There might be some kinks in this plan, but first here are some bullet points the MSPmentor published in their post:
- 79% of opportunities scored 70 or above, indicating a favorable fit for a cloud desktop/cloud workspace solution
- 94% of opportunities scored involved companies with between 5-150 employees—a sweet spot for MSPs
- 93% of the opportunities scored had at least one server that is three years old or older
- 88% of opportunities scored had at least one third-party application beyond Microsoft Office
- 74% of opportunities scored featured remote workers and/or multiple offices
- 65% of opportunities scored have a desire to implement a BYOD policy
- 49% of the opportunities scored still use XP or Server 2003 within their environment, though the number within the last 6 months has dropped
Older servers can translate into Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—why buy a new server that you have to maintain when you can use a virtual one that scales as you need to for a smaller monthly cost and no capital investment. Want BYOD? As I’m learning, if you just load your “work computer” as a screen on your personal computer, you can have anything you want on your desk. I’m still more in favor of a hybrid approach with a list of approved machines that you can buy yourself over a free for all, but Cloud workspaces and VDIs are a whole new take on BYOD.
But I think the true explosion in virtual desktops to be years away. I haven’t seen any tool that lets you have a virtual desktop when you’re not connected to a network (though I guess it could work with a local version that would sync on connect) which is a big problem for mobile workers. Sure I connect at home and at work to the Internet, but what if I can’t connect?
Okay there might be solutions to an online/offline switch, but what about habits? This is the part that I think is going to be hardest to break. We’ve grown accustomed to computers where we install programs and work in folders and have things right there. I think the habit and mindset in IT to have machines that need managing is going to take a while to change. What kind of machine goes on your desk? How do you keep people from doing things locally? Is it even a problem?
Will 2016 be the break out year for Desktop as a Servicer (DaaS)? Yes, I think it will be. Will it go into the mainstream at companies? Not for another five years. But next year will pave the way for a much cooler and more flexible computing experience for everyone.