Q: What did Brian Madden, Gabe, Puneet and I talk about for an hour? A: VDI Technology

Author: Rana Kanaan

Publish on: Mar 24, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Yesterday, Workspot’s own Puneet Chawla and I sat down with Brian Madden and Gabe Knuth to discuss VDI. We covered a lot ground from the genesis of the organizations that bootstrapped the first VDI by running XP on ESX to the inception of VD 2.0 and everything in between. There was even a “Can you mom use it” challenge! Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.

How did the idea for VDI start at Citrix and VMware?

Sometime around 2004, companies were doing VDI without anyone’s help, running XP VMs on ESX. As a result, VMware started looking seriously at doing VDI in 2005 to meet that demand. Essentially, in the early days of VDI’s development was customer-driven, not vendor driven. FYI, Puneet wrote the first lines of code for VMware's VDI.

Puneet and I spent two decades combined building VDI and getting it out the door. As development progressed, VDI went through numerous iterations and versions, including the IMA and FMA transition, the integration of XenApp and XenDesktop, layering, etc. In the end, although development made a ton of progress, eventually it hit a "adoption" wall. 

Fast-forward a few years to 2013. Even though it was supposed to be so great, no one was using it. It was 0-2% deployed, instead of 100% or even just 20%. Why? Because traditional VDI is hard!

Today’s enterprise reality: Windows isn’t going away. Neither is iOS. So what do you do?

Even though many experts have declared the death of Windows numerous times, in the past 7 years Windows has only lost 7% of market share. It’s not going away. As long as there is one person in an organization using Windows, you have to deliver it because that application is needed.

Some companies have enormous numbers of apps. For example, the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi has 2,500+ Windows apps. Try migrating that! Even if they migrated 7 apps per month it would take them 30 years. No one wants to do that. It’s hard, and sometimes even impossible because IT probably doesn't even know who wrote the original application code. So Gabe’s totally right, if you could have migrated the app from Windows, you would have done it already.

Legacy VDI Solutions slow down IT

What IT doesn’t need…architectural baggage and “bolt on” features

While Citrix and VMware’s products are built on good ideas, the problem is that they’re too hard to set up. So running a pilot takes 6 months. And the complexity problem has only gotten worse over the years. When VMware launched its first product, the user guide was 20 pages. A few years later it was 250 pages. Let’s be honest, with this much complexity, documentation is a relief!

When attempting to solve a large-scale problem, say at a Department of Works and Pensions or at Morgan Stanley, what do Citrix and VMware do? They have to bring legacy architecture and try to retrofit it and bolt on fixes. That’s great for than one customer in Germany, who is the only user for that feature, but now you got stubs of stuff integrated in the code base. That’s a recipe for major complication. Who’s got tech support on speed dial?

What IT does need

Ideally, IT needs three things:

1. Speed

It shouldn't take 6+ months to get VDI to users. Wouldn't you want it the same day?

2. Choice and flexibility

Why can’t I use any hardware from Atlantis, Nutanix, HPE, Cisco, etc?

Why can’t I use any hypervisor from VMware, Acropolis, Hyper-V?

Why can’t I use any cloud from Azure, AWS, or private cloud and at the same time?

3.  Not to patch or upgrade

Patching and upgrading sucks up time and resources. A VDI solution should just auto update in the background.

By the way, all of these needs also happen to drive down the TCO for VDI

Why we built Workspot

When Puneet and I were VMware and Citrix, respectively, we had to bring the existing architectural baggage with us. So instead of addressing the customer needs, we were thinking “how do I shoehorn VDI into their network?” So to actually solve IT needs for the next 10 years, we started from a clean slate.

Workspot’s architecture is unique. Like Meraki, the control plane and the data plane are separate, which makes it very secure. Workspot is essentially the VDI management stack built for performance. The cloud is the broker so performance, high availability, and deep analytics is built-in.  You can geek out on the architecture here.  Net-net, VDI for the next 10 year has to point and click simple.

No, we don’t offer a standard, enterprise, platinum, platinum+, platinum++ editions

Does anyone actually understand edition packaging? We’re focused on simple. So, Workspot is subscription based per user and everything is in the one license.

We covered a bunch more about RDP vs HDX, DaaS, building a product for the next decade, will Windows be around forever, how to get away from Citrix licensing the easy way, thin clients, and more!

Download the Brian Madden Podcast

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