In the new normal, companies are looking for options to support secure remote work for almost their whole workforce, and they need to decide which operating models and technologies best fit their needs. HPE GreenLake for VDI provides a simplified, cloud-like, managed approach.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a standardized solution for enterprises to provide secure access to desktops and applications. Enterprises have been using this technology for many years for specific use cases – for example, to support task workers who need specific LOB applications for their daily work. This could be a call center agent who uses a specific CRM application to help customers resolve issues, or a financial analyst who needs to access and analyze data. But from industry research, we know that only a small percentage of all enterprise users, between 10% and 20%, are enabled for VDI; the rest are still using classic desktops and laptops1.
The year 2020 will change long-established behavior patterns around VDI usage in enterprises, largely because of their response to the spread of COVID-19. Enterprises were caught unprepared for the massive impact, and many lacked the scalable foundations to respond rapidly, for example by enabling remote working for the majority of their workforce. Remote work is no longer an option or an initiative – almost overnight, it’s become a global imperative.
As companies move forward beyond recovery to the new normal, the next challenge will be to consider what the future workplace will look like and what strategies they should adopt to get there.
VDI’s many advantages
In general, there are two approaches that enable employees to access corporate applications and data from home or any other external location: virtual private networking (VPN) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). While VPN technology requires a corporate secured device in order to access applications from remote, VDI technology can be used to access corporate apps from any device.
VDI offers some significant advantages over VPN. Virtual desktops allow employees to access applications and documents from multiple devices, including other desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This increases productivity by enabling workers to access necessary data from anywhere. As a result, whether employees are in another building, another state, or halfway across the globe, a virtualized desktop allows them to be productive in any environment. Plus, if an employee’s device is defective, he or she can simply log in from another device and continue working because the data was not stored locally. VDI can provid
Virtual desktops can strengthen security because employees aren’t carrying around corporate data on a device that could easily be lost, stolen or compromised. That’s an important advantage in these days of increasing regulation to protect customer data, and could be a crucial consideration in the healthcare sector, where protecting patient confidentiality is a paramount concern.
During the pandemic we also have seen that companies often struggle to provide IT support for client devices not connected to the corporate network. Usually if a device is broken or a new OS is required, the user would simply go in to the office to get the device fixed or to get an enterprise OS image installed. But that’s not so easy in a pandemic. From a recent IDC survey2, it seems that many enterprises are planning to invest in IT automation to allow them to support device management, even if the users and IT staffers are not allowed to go in to the office. But most are not there yet.
With VDI, since everything is centrally managed, stored and secured, virtual desktops eliminate the need to install, update and patch applications, back up files and scan for viruses on individual client devices. Desktop virtualization also helps to streamline management of software assets.
Scalability, cloud, and the capacity challenge
So VDI does have lot of advantages compared to other access technologies like VPN, but we haven’t addressed the scalability of remote connectivity solutions yet. As mentioned earlier, only a small percentage of all enterprise users are currently enabled to use remote access technologies; only specific use cases have been enabled for VDI. With the COVID-19 crisis, companies were forced to support and enable almost all of their users to work from home. And as you can imagine, many companies were unable to provide access to them all immediately because of lack of resources. Not enough hardware was available, and too few software licenses. They may have been unable to procure extra laptops for their employees because suppliers had trouble keeping these devices in stock during this time. And because of security policies, employees were not allowed to use personal devices.
As companies plan for the future borderless workplace, capacity planning is an increasingly important factor. Are you going to support 100% of your employees to work from home all the time? Or are you updating your business continuity management (BCM) plan to support all users only if there’s a new crisis? This decision needs careful planning and a look at your sourcing and operating model as well as bursting capabilities. Do you rely purely on public cloud services for all of your workloads? Or do you want to keep control of specific use cases and their data, and therefore maintain required infrastructure on-premises and leverage bursting capabilities?
The best of both worlds (on-premises and public cloud) with HPE GreenLake for VDI
Is there a way to get the best of both on- and off-prem worlds for the virtual desktop? There is: It’s called HPE GreenLake for VDI. It’s an innovative, turnkey solution that combines the security and performance of on-premises infrastructure with the flexibility and simplicity of cloud. (Read today’s press release announcing HPE GreenLake for VDI.)
HPE GreenLake for VDI is a great choice for organizations that want to install or refresh a VDI environment with a unique as-a-service option that enables them to keep their workloads on-premises, scale simply and quickly, and pay on a per-user, per-month basis. The infrastructure is managed by HPE operations teams up to, but not including, the virtual desktop OS image.
With this new cloud service, HPE is enabling companies to re-think the way their people work. It give you great flexibility in deciding when and how your people will work from home or be mobile. It enables you to increase security and productivity. And it helps you retain staff by delivering an outstanding user experience. While the public cloud may be suited for rapid scaling of general-purpose workloads, this cloud service delivers secure desktops from your own data centers, with the performance you need, even for your more demanding workloads.
HPE delivers HPE GreenLake cloud services for VDI with a full choice of best-in-class partners in our large ecosystem. The services can include market-leading software for VDI from Citrix or VMware, as many customers have standardized on one or both. We can leverage the Nutanix operating system and management console to deliver VDI services with HPE GreenLake. And power users or engineering workers benefit from our inclusion of NVIDIA accelerators to deliver on compute- and graphic-intensive work.
With HPE GreenLake for VDI, you choose the right mix of desktops, and we deliver them in modules for 100, 300, 500, or 1000 or more users, as a service. The modules can be configured for task workers, who typically use a small number of low-compute-intensity applications, as in a call center; knowledge workers, with predominant use of office productivity applications and browsing; power users, who need more intensive use of office applications, mid-level graphics requirements or development platforms; and engineering or financial professionals with intensive graphics requirements for CAD-type applications or financial multi-screens. If these pre-defined virtual desktop types doesn’t fit your needs, for sure, we can tailor the solution to your requirements. We leverage HPE Pointnext Services to help assess your current environment and help on sizing the right resources for your virtual desktop use case.
HPE GreenLake for VDI provides:
- Streamlined, cloud-like economics. The solution combines HPE hardware, software, and services from HPE Pointnext Services in a straightforward per-named-user, per-month billing model. We deploy the infrastructure at your data center, close to your applications and users, but ownership remains with HPE. It’s a simplified, cloud-like solution that lets you sidestep the need for big chunks of capital.
- Massive scalability. HPE GreenLake for VDI is a flexible model that can grow and expand as your needs change. If you find another use case that you want to expand to, the HPE GreenLake platform can add that capacity very quickly ahead of demand.
- Simplified migration and management. HPE GreenLake for VDI is a huge timesaver when it comes to migrating from an older virtual desktop infrastructure platform to a new one. That’s usually work that you have to do in-house, and it doesn’t necessarily get prioritized. It can take months to do the design, pull all the infrastructure pieces together and do a big waterfall-style push to get the project out the door.
With HPE Pointnext Services’ deep virtual desktop infrastructure expertise and experience, together with our preexisting designs, we can reduce it all to just three questions: How many users do you want on the platform? Where do you want the solution located, i.e. which data center does it need to live in? And which virtual desktop vendor do you want to use? Then we can give you a price, design it and install it for you.
HPE GreenLake for VDI also removes some of the complexity of day-to-day management of your virtual estate. If you use a Citrix solution, for example, your admins would see exactly the same console that they’ve used in the past and would manage your images in the same way. But some elements of the console would be restricted, because they’re managed by HPE. The soup-to-nuts monitoring, maintenance and operation of the underlying hardware platform is performed by HPE, so that’s a layer of environment that your admins don’t have to deal with. In addition, we help you keep your underlying virtual desktop and virtual application systems current and the software up-to-date and ready for any future upgrades.
Building the complete story around VDI
One of the advantages of working with HPE is the breadth of services we offer customers around the virtual desktop solution. Whether it’s creating an optimized network communication fabric that can meet the needs of the virtual solution, or providing a security offering that manages risk through AI and ML techniques, or augmenting the virtual desktop offering with customized public cloud solutions, HPE brings all the tools and expertise to our customers so they can sit back and watch their vision for a workplace of the future unfold before their eyes.
Organizational change management is a key factor in the successful adoption of any workplace-related offering. HPE provides a rich change management offering tailored to making your people, processes and technology all work together like clockwork.
Learn more about HPE GreenLake for VDI.
Learn more about HPE VDI solutions.
1. See, for example, Gartner: Market Trends: VDI Demand is Growing, but Not Everyone Will Be Successful. ID GOO325320, April 2017
2. IDC: Work-From-Home Trends: Moving from Crisis to Recovery, Doc # US46248321, June 2020
Alfred Pargfrieder is Lead Architect Digital Workplace, HPE Pointnext Services.