We learned at VMworld Europe that VMware sees disaster recovery as a problem that they can address with cloud services. Currently, customers build elaborate colocation sites or offsite DR facilities with PCs and servers (sometimes the previous generation of each) that they then have to patch and maintain. To alleviate this, VMware wants their customers to leverage the Horizon Air solution for desktop disaster recovery. They’ve even created a standalone offering called Horizon Air Desktop DR.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and while it seems like a slam-dunk idea, take a step back and consider the reasons most companies don’t move to DaaS in the first place. The reasons are rarely technical, at least initially. Most organizations have trust issues with the provider, or think they can do it better themselves. They worry about SLAs, and in the case of disaster recovery, they worry that the service provider can handle an instant impact of potentially thousands of desktops (or multiples of that in the event several companies are affected in a regional disaster) all coming online at once as opposed to the normal process that would scale up the number of desktops.
After those issues, which are largely mental, there are the other issues of integration to AD, where the data lives, access to backend services (what good are desktops in the cloud if they can’t access the apps that still live in the datacenter), and a bunch of other technical things.
Using DaaS as a DR solution means that not only have you come to terms with the mental challenges, but that you’ve also solved the technical challenges that were standing in the way of a DaaS rollout. In that case, there’s a good chance that you’d already be a DaaS user, and that you wouldn’t have to worry about DaaS as a DR solution.
I mentioned this to VMware, and they said that there are customers that want this, some in a limited capacity. Bursting for interns was one example given, but I don’t consider that DR, I consider that a fundamental use case for DaaS that a customer could accomplish with just about any provider on any platform.
So I’m not sold on Horizon Air Desktop DR (not just VMware, but using DaaS as DR or bursting in general) as a standalone solution. If VMware is trying to use it as another vector to convert customers from on-premises desktops to cloud, that’s ok. Even then it’s just a tool to get organizations thinking about how to clear the mental and technical hurdles on the way to DaaS adoption. The thing is, once they’ve done that they no longer have any reasons to not do DaaS all the way.