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Cloud Computing: Article

The Pitfalls of Cloud-Washed VDI | @CloudExpo #VDI #Cloud #Microservices

Interview with Workspot CEO Amitabh Sinha

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

What is "Cloud-washing" anyway?

Amitabh Sinha, CEO of Workspot: 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."

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.

How does cloud-washing affect Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) rollout in the real world?

Sinha: 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

How does a vendor cloud-wash VDI?

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

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.

What are the pitfalls of cloud-washed VDI?

Sinha: 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 back-end 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 can a company be assured they get a cloud-native VDI from their MSP?

Sinha: There are several areas to check when determining whether their MSP's VDI service is cloud-native or cloud washed. First, find out how long it takes to setup and initially gain access to your desktops. Then, ask how long it takes, once your up and running, to substantially increase the number of desktops that you make available to your users.  In a cloud washed architecture this will take days or longer to both initiate use and increase capacity.  This is because the backend architecture is comprised of stateful enterprise software executables that are running as VMs on hypervisors and all have to be built out per customer order.  Considerable delay and added expense to the MSP is inevitable.  With a cloud-native VDI service the back end is comprised or stateless microservices that launch immediately and scale with demand to deliver a true multi-tenant, instantly and infinitely scalable VDI service to users.

How does cloud-native VDI work?

Sinha: 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.

So what does cloud-native VDI look like for multiple customers?

Sinha: 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.

Why is cloud-native VDI better?

Sinha: 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.

What makes Workspot the ideal VDI solution?

Sinha: 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, check out this video with Puneet Chawla, CTO and Co-Founder of Workspot: https://vimeo.com/178668431

To read Amitabh Sinha's recent blog post on this topic, please go to: http://blog.workspot.com/pitfalls-of-cloud-washing-vdi

Workspot has reinvented VDI with its cloud-native VDI 2.0 and groundbreaking Desktop-as-a-Service 2.0 (DaaS 2.0) solutions. With the ability to deploy thousands of virtual desktops in hours - not weeks or months - Workspot solves the corporate challenge of securely delivering apps, desktops and data to any device and helps organizations achieve unprecedented time-to-value for VDI implementations.  A frictionless experience across mobile, Mac and PC platforms delights users with its elegance and simplicity. Based in Cupertino, California, Workspot was awarded the Best of VMworld 2016 Gold Award Winner for Desktop and Application Delivery solutions. For more information, visit www.workspot.com.

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Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Silicon Valley and Paris, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Blockchain, Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Tip her if you like her articles: http://xeniar.tip.me