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Desktops vs VDI – Horses for Courses

VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) has gained popularity in recent years, with many organisations using tech from VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft for their VDI platforms. Despite the growing use of VDI; traditional desktop deployments are still going strong. Which is best, VDI or Desktop? It depends on your business! When it comes to Desktops vs VDI, there are several items you need to consider.

Depending on what you read, many argue that VDI solutions deliver an attractive ROI, particularly when compared to the ‘power-hungry’ and the administratively burdensome traditional desktop (or laptop). However – many small businesses consider VDI solutions costly; both in terms of licensing and professional services requirements. So… who is right? Is VDI the answer? Are traditional desktops evil? What is the best solution? As with many questions of this type.. it depends.

There is no single answer

Many of the VDI proponents are correct, VDI solutions can:

  • Enhance security.
  • Reduce administrative overhead.
  • Increase reliability.
  • Enable flexible working.
  • Reduce power and operating costs.
  • Provide flexibility.

While these benefits are attractive, they can come at a cost. The truth is that a modern desktop estate can also:

  • Enhance security (Endpoint Protection, Application Control).
  • Reduce administrative overhead (Office 365 InTune, MDM, Group Policy, RMM software). This can also be outsourced with ITaaS.
  • Increase reliability (Modern desktop hardware is very reliable).
  • Enable flexible working (More small businesses use SaaS/Browser-based software, and VPN is commonplace. Use of Desktops and RDS/WVD are also options).
  • Reduce power and operating costs (Modern hardware supports SSD and flexible power policies to reduce power consumption).
  • Provide flexibility.

If cost is an issue, saving £250 on your electricity bill, but spending £1,000 on licensing may be a false economy.

Equally, squeezing the life out of your 8-year old desktop PC, while investing hours and hours maintaining it, is also a false economy. A holistic view of your business and IT requirements when evaluating Desktops vs VDI is needed before making the jump.

Desktops vs VDI – It depends

Windows Virtual Desktop
Microsoft’s WVD provides a rich Windows 10 experience, hosted in Microsoft Azure. Opex based subscription pricing, accessible from anywhere.

Whenever we approach a customer requirement where VDI is a consideration, before prescribing a solution – it is essential to understand:

  • Customer organisation. Geographic sites, remote workforce, regulatory requirements, operating markets, working practices.
  • Workforce. The number of staff? The number of locations? Do they work remotely? Do they travel? Do they hotdesk? Are there any specific wishes or wants?
  • Workloads. Do they primarily use Office or desktop apps? Web apps? CAD or video editing? Graphical server? Power users?
  • Apps. Legacy apps? Web-based? Cloud-based? Any restrictions?
  • Future. Is growth expected? M&A? Reduction? Moves and changes? Does VDI provide some agility?
  • Existing assets. Does the customer have existing hardware assets? Are they expecting a significant investment?
  • DR/BCP requirements. What BCP/DR requirements does your business have? Does it have a DR plan? How quickly do you need to resume operation?
  • Customer preference. Cloud or on-premise (local) deployment? Public cloud or private cloud? Jurisdictional preference for data domicile?
  • IT capabilities. Do they have existing in-house IT capability? Do they outsource? Do they want to outsource?
  • Other services. Is your e-mail platform or core business apps in the cloud (i.e. Office 365)?

Only after answering these questions are we in a position to recommend:

  • On-Premise (Local) VDI deployment. This may include VMWare or Microsoft RDS (Remote Desktop Services).
  • Private Cloud VDI. As above, but VMWare or Microsoft RDS is installed on a private cloud instance, in a datacentre.
  • Public Cloud VDI. Our preferred option here is Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), but Amazon Workspaces is an option in some cases.
  • On-Premise / Traditional Desktop. Traditional desktop and laptop hardware, with server infrastructure in the server room, public cloud, private cloud or datacentre.

There is a fifth option – hybrid. Hybrid allows you to have power-users with desktop or laptop hardware, office workers with VDI, and remote-workforce using public cloud VDI.

Get an independent perspective

Fujitsu Q558
Fujitsu Esprimo Q Series micro-form-factor PCs are high performance, low power and excellent value desktops.

When considering VDI vs Desktops, we work with our customers to recommend the most appropriate IT solution, that meets the needs of their business today, and tomorrow. We appreciate it can be confusing, particularly with so much conflicting information.

Speak to Manx Technology Group if your company is embarking on an IT solution refresh, or is keen to understand the different options available to your business. Our solutions team can develop IT solutions, and demonstrate the pros, cons and costs of each solution. VDI and Traditional Desktop IT delivery are both great options for your business, but – there is no silver bullet. Horses for courses.

E-mail sales@mtg.im, call +44 1624 777837 or select ‘Request a Quote’ for more information.

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Joe Hughes is the CEO of Manx Technology Group. Joe has a background in software development, information security, networks, datacentres and enterprise IT.

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