Why do people use VDI? One reason!

At today's VDI 2015 seminar in San Francisco, there's a sort of joke slide Gabe and I use to talk about all the various goals of desktop virtualization.

At today’s VDI 2015 seminar in San Francisco, there’s a sort of joke slide Gabe and I use to talk about all the various goals of desktop virtualization:

Desktop Virt Road Show  Brian  April 2015 001

All of the goals on this slide are “real” in the sense that they came from marketing material from people selling VDI as potential benefits of VDI. Whether these are actually real or not is not the point, a case made by the next slide where we say the “real” reason people use VDI is to solve “DWI”:

Desktop Virt Road Show  Brian  April 2015 002

“DWI” does not mean “driving while intoxicated,” rather, it means “doctors with iPads”:

Desktop Virt Road Show  Brian  April 2015 003

The point is that you can make all the arguments about how VDI could improve your management or allow users to be more flexible or shorten down time, but when it comes down to it, a lot of people look to VDI for the simple fact that some doctor walks into the desktop admin’s office, plops down an iPad, and says, “Make our apps work on here."

Of course not everyone has DWI as the exact reason they use VDI, but everyone has a “DWI-like” reason for VDI. We can discuss all the theoretical benefits about VDI till we’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day, every company that uses VDI has some very specific reason for it. Your DWI reason might not be the same as my DWI reason, but we all have a DWI reason. (Otherwise we wouldn’t be using VDI!)

This is nothing new. When I first started using Citrix in 1997, we had a help desks in Ohio and Texas, and a our help desk app was a typical client-server app that was horribly slow for the Texas help desk folks. So we used WinFrame to remotely deliver our app. We didn’t argue about “the future of Windows” or a “desktop strategy” or anything like that. We had an app people needed to use in Texas. It was slow. We installed WinFrame. It was fast. The end.

I’ve often argued that if you really needed VDI, you’d be using it by now. It wouldn’t be some future strategy. It would just be “the way.” (This is based on one of my favorite movie quotes from Road Trip: "It's supposed to be a challenge, that's why they call it a shortcut. If it was easy it would just be 'the way’.")

At the end of the day, no ones boss storms into their office and says, “We need to manage our desktops better,” or “We need to improve security by 20%.” Rather, they storm in with their DWI reason, “We need to allow users to work from home,” or “We need to allow Mac users to access this Windows app."

That’s where VDI comes in. Not for some abstract huge list of nebulous benefits that may or may not be real, rather, for one specific DWI-like reason. Getting familiar with VDI means you can be ready for that moment when it comes. (And once you get there, of course, you’ll be able to grow the use of your VDI environment to meet more and more needs.) But when it comes to getting VDI in the door, you’ll have one reason. And whatever that reason is, it’s ok.

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Amen brother- it all comes down to the basics, so glad we are moving beyond the VDI Delusion. Just have to combat the StorageVirtualization Delusion, more on that at BriForum US!!


VDI is all about cost savings, being able to reduce fixed costs of hardware.  Even though the cost of desktop hardware have dropped  a lot and even more powerful.  Firms also uses VDI to divert labor costs.  Instead of hiring a desktop team, they have to hire more VDI engineers.

In the end, I don't think VDI brought any improvement in performance, stability, and lower total cost of ownership.  People say it's cheaper, it's not.  When your Mgr realize your VDIs are running off aging old Vmware hosts that will need millions of dollars to upgrade both the VMWare hosts and storage, think again.  The cost of ensuring enough resources for large VDI deployment is variable.  Which is why many firms tries to delay upgrading their VDI infrastructure.  But they can't delay paying employees.  The whole point is that VDI allows companies to delaying paying for resources but the total cost is not cheaper than running traditional desktop and server environments.