The Pitfalls of Cloud-Washed VDI and How It Affects Your Bottom Line

by Amitabh Sinha on Jan 31, 2017 9:26:38 AM

Today, everywhere you turn IT solutions are moving to the cloud. Or at least, that’s what IT vendors would like you to believe. In many cases, what’s really happening is that IT products are being rebranded and marketed as cloud solutions. In other words, they’re being “cloud-washed.”

As TechTarget describes – “Cloud washing (also spelled cloudwashing) is the purposeful and sometimes deceptive attempt by a vendor to rebrand an old product or service by associating the buzzword "cloud" with it.”

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While many of these solutions do have some cloud integration, their designs don’t have the backend infrastructure or dedicated management teams to support a truly cloud-native solution. Instead, vendors are adapting their solutions and modifying them to run on virtual machines. A great example of how cloud-washing works—and its pitfalls—can be seen in the VDI space.

Cloud-washed VDI in a nutshell

Redesigning an on-premises VDI solution from scratch to make it a truly cloud-native, multi-tenant solution is a time-consuming task that requires a significant investment. Many vendors simply don’t want to spend the time or effort. Instead, they’ve taken the easy way out by creating a short-term cloud solution by hosting software for each instance of their single tenant solutions. And they talk the talk - all about how easy it's going to be for you to move to the cloud. Here is where you find the pitfalls.

Here’s what a single instance of VDI looks like for one customer:

Cloud-washing VDI .png
Now, here’s how a vendor will typically cloud-wash VDI:

They’ll take a single-tenant, on-premises instance of their product and duplicate it for every customer. Can you imagine?

typical example of cloud-wash vdi.png

Basically the architecture of a single tenant solution is copied and pasted over and over (and over and over...) in an attempt to transform it into a multi-tenant one. When a vendor wins a new customer, the vendor sets up a new tenant, adds capacity for scaling the instance, does updates on the instance, and then troubleshoots the instance (as necessary).

While this may be the fastest time to market for this vendor, it is not a good long-term strategy. The resulting solution doesn’t just increase the complexity of VDI in a linear way. Instead, it takes VDI complexity to a whole new level. 

Challenges with cloud-washed VDI  

All this operational complexity introduces innumerable issues. Here are just a few that vendors and service providers peddling cloud-washed VDI have to grapple with:

  • How do you update servers, databases for each tenant?
  • How do you push updates to clients?
  • How do you push updates to in-desktop components?
  • How do you troubleshoot problems across tenants?
  • How do you add new users or use cases (such as video)?  

And those are just the vendor’s backend issues. We haven’t begun exploring how IT departments and end-users suffer. After deployment, system performance is unusually slow, and users often can’t log into their desktops without significant wait periods.

And what about when there are technical issues, IT must perform root cause analysis that requires collaboration between multiple teams: server, storage, networking, virtualization and desktop! Cloud-washed VDI requires so many IT resources that it simply isn’t sustainable. A high TCO is the result of all this complexity.

How cloud-native VDI works

Now let’s compare VDI designed with a cloud-native, multi-tenant code base built on stateless microservices. (Note: cloud-native VDI is fundamentally multi-tenant.) Cloud-native VDI leverages a single version of code for all customers, eliminating the need for new servers for each new customer. And there’s no need to provision unique storage for each tenant.

Here’s what cloud-native VDI looks like for multiple customers:

Cloud Native Solution by Workspot.png

Distributed deployment happens at either the organization’s data center or at a service provider’s data center. And each tenant is managed centrally with a single pane of glass. This shared capacity across tenants has numerous benefits.

Benefits of cloud-native VDI

For starters, virtualized infrastructure is maintained and managed by the vendor, which oversees system performance. In this scenario, monitoring for potential problems is far more efficient because there’s a global view across all tenants.

Organizations enjoy automatic updates without downtime. Updates across thousands of instances are completely network-enabled and mechanized. Testing updates becomes a breeze in this set-up because testing only needs to take place against one system. With cloud-native VDI, IT departments no longer need to deal with installing upgrades or performing maintenance.

Automated IT tasks are one way that cloud-native VDI introduces significant cost-efficiencies. Another significant advantage is that it can be billed on a “pay-per-use” basis, enabling organizations to easily manage their costs and scale up or down as needed. This means that you only pay for what you actually use.

Which brings us to the issue of scalability. Unlike cloud-washed solutions, with cloud-native VDI more capacity can be added as needed, instantly. There’s no ceiling to the number of users either. It’s infinitely scalable.

For all of these reasons and more, single-tenant, cloud-washed VDI simply can’t compete with cloud-native VDI.

Workspot designed the first cloud-native VDI solution

Workspot invented the industry’s first and only VDI 2.0 solution. Its cloud-native control plane is a huge innovation. Not only does it enable you to make VDI operational in a single day, it also makes management a breeze. VDI 2.0 eliminates the need for admin workflows, such as installing, patching, upgrading, and troubleshooting. And it solves all the performance issues that cloud-washed VDI can’t overcome. As a bonus, it drastically reduces TCO.

Users love it because they can log onto their desktops and get to work right away. IT loves it because they don't need PhDs in VDI 1.0. It's a win-win-win for businesses, users, and IT.

If you want to know more about what cloud-native VDI looks like under the hood, spend 5 minutes with Puneet below to get the details.

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This post was written by Amitabh Sinha

Amitabh has more than twenty years of experience across enterprise software, end user computing, mobile, and database software. Amitabh co-founded Workspot with Puneet Chawla and Ty Wang in August 2012. Prior to Workspot, Amitabh was the General Manager for Enterprise Desktops and Apps at Citrix Systems. In his five years at Citrix, Amitabh was VP Product Management for XenDesktop and VP Engineering for the Advanced Solutions Group. Amitabh has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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