- The COVID-19-induced shift to remote work has piqued the interest in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and its cloud spin-off – Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).
- With many schools and universities sticking to remote learning, VDI helps bridge the desktop divide and enhance outcomes.
- Rising spending on public cloud infrastructure will augur well for VDI now and beyond the pandemic.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been around for a few decades. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a big spotlight on VDI, and 2020 may well have been the game-changer for this technology to go across the board.
While the pandemic has impacted almost every industry around the globe, VDI and DaaS services have seen tremendous adoption as more and more businesses shift their entire process to remote working.
A recent report found that the global VDI market is likely to be worth around $13 Bn by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 14.4% from 2019 through 2027. Such staggering growth reflects the current disruptive impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
So, what’s driving this trend? Read on to know more.
Sudden Shift to Remote Work
Following the nationwide shutdowns to contain the coronavirus spread, several businesses have to swiftly adapt and execute compute groundwork to support remote employees. VDI has emerged as a logical fit, and businesses have employed VDI solutions at length.
Experts anticipate that the COVID-19 crisis will influence 70% of desktop virtualization business cases through 2023. Now, businesses are looking for technology that is mobile, scalable, more secure, and cost-efficient. They are switching to centralized virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, including both cloud-based and on-prem solutions, that are safer and leaner.
As most of the processing for VDI is done on the centralized servers, businesses don’t have to bank on expensive hardware for workers to access resources. Also, this streamlines device management, security, and support.
None of the linked devices store any confidential information. This approach is highly secure for remote employees. Software patches and updates can be easily applied across all access device hardware securely and effectively, ensuring everybody is well on track.
Flexibility and Speed – Much-needed while Working from Home
Moving ahead, VDI allows businesses to provision and de-provision systems with typical application sets as needed within minutes instead of hours or days. This speed and flexibility of service delivery offer a terrific opportunity for VDI in the post-COVID-19 world. Properly leveraged, VDI can curb the hardware ownership and support personnel needed to support the remote employees.
VDI service providers will do well to comprehend their customers’ particular needs and their potential challenges in the future. Exploring the critical areas that stem from a sudden switch to remote work will, no doubt, result in sales.
Putting the Classroom in Cloud
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a great deal of pressure on educational institutions to swiftly turn to a virtual learning experience. Now, the remainder of 2021 won’t be business as usual for several school and university students. While some educational institutes have announced plans to resume in-class lectures, others are planning for continued online classes.
User experience is king in this context. It has to be on-par or better compared to in-person. VDI provides a means to bridge the gap by offering students streamlined, simple, straightforward options for remote access.
While remote learning remains a prerequisite, it’s not sufficient to simply enable limited IT access and provide canned lectures. The student experience and user-friendliness are critical to stepping up academic outcomes and bolster ongoing student enrolment. Executed smartly, VDI provides a potential way to achieve both.
Furthermore, as educational institutes embrace DaaS to set up new virtual education labs, the market growth opportunities for VDI are likely to boom.
Public Cloud – An Unsung Hero
In a way, the public-health crisis has served as a de facto catalyst for unfolding the flexibility and value of cloud infrastructure (once again) and triggered faster adoption. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the global end-user expenditure on public cloud services will surge 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 Bn, according to Gartner.
Earlier, businesses were reluctant to shift critical workloads to the cloud due to security worries. But with tech giants such as Microsoft alone investing over $1 Bn on public cloud security and roping in more than 3,500 worldwide cybersecurity professionals, the industry is almost accepting that public cloud is becoming safer versus conventional data centers.
(In this case study, we explain how even critical cyberattacks like ransomware can be contained promptly in a DaaS environment and how organizations can achieve seamless business continuity with zero downtime: Proactive System Protection by Anunta against Ransomware with DaaS)
We have already seen conventional on-site applications such as Microsoft Office shifting to the cloud with Microsoft 365. VDI looks set to follow along the same path. Moreover, with the rise of cloud service providers, the capability and pricing of VDI have improved a great deal.
A Shift to Non-persistent Desktops for a Persistent User Experience
Conventionally, cost and experience have been two of the biggest challenges to large-scale VDI employment. Businesses looking to ensure a continuous user experience to their customers had to invest in cost-prohibitive dedicated hardware to back each virtual machine (VM) – persistent desktops.
On the other hand, non-persistent desktops deliver considerable cost-cutting but do not save user preferences and set up a new machine every time a customer logs in to their virtual desktop.
VDI service providers, including Microsoft and Citrix, have addressed this hurdle by putting an additional personalization layer over non-persistent machines thus ensuring a persistent experience to non-persistent desktops. Furthermore, the adoption of non-persistent VDI will skyrocket 18% through 2026.
What Lies Ahead for VDI post-COVID-19?
People and industries are still bouncing back from the pandemic shockwaves, and it’s a little too early to make overly specific predictions about the future of VDI following the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, a post-COVID world promises to spur recovery as enterprises of all sizes facilitate their entire workforce with secure access to business-critical applications – irrespective of device, location, or browser.
Virtual desktop infrastructure solutions have matured, and the infrastructure that supports VDI has also matured. Now they are a bit cheaper, more stable, and no longer confined to use-cases in particular domains. The market is still evolving, with more potential developments in the virtualization space after the COVID-19 chapter ends.