While Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is not a new concept, very few managed service providers (MSPs) have figured out how to harness VDI to their advantage. But when implemented the right way, VDI offers numerous advantages to both the MSP and end-customers, from reduced costs to enhanced user experience. In addition, MSPs can turn the desktop management experience into a profitable product line.
How is this possible? The first thing to understand is that VDI streamlines desktop management for MSPs. Since the early days of managed services, desktops have typically been a difficult component to manage, and effectiveness, profitability, and efficiency varied greatly from one provider to another. This is because, unlike “locked down” components like servers, desktops necessarily require a number of interferences by the user such as modifications to settings, applications, local user access permissions, desktop environment changes, security updates, and more. This makes management far more complex, and therefore time- and resource-intensive, for the MSP.
Since we can’t very well ask users to give up their ability to control and customize their desktops, we need a better alternative to traditional desktop management that will enable the MSP to drive greater profitability and efficiency. This is where VDI comes in.
Thin Client Computing & RDS
Before we cover the benefits of VDI, it’s important to understand contextualize our understanding of desktop management. Before VDI became popular, MSPs would provide desktop experiences to their customers via thin client computing. This was done by hosting a version of the desktop on a centralized server, and allowing users to login to that desktop via a remote session.
One of the primary reasons thin client computing never grew in adoption was due to limited bandwidth. While users could access the desktop OS and applications with the security and redundancy of a thin client architecture, the user experience was frequently poor due to bandwidth limitations Now that Internet availability and speeds have dramatically improved, the viability of VDI has transformed. Just look at the overwhelming popularity of public cloud computing solutions like Office 365 and Google’s G Suite.
Another early model of desktop access was terminal services (or RDS), which allowed for access and control of a remote computer via an Internet connection. Unfortunately, this proved to be slow and unreliable. All devices are forced to share the same resources, which can create major bottlenecks and thus reduced performance – especially if the service provider has an erratic network. In addition, the RDS administrator must be very knowledgeable on the ins and outs of the system, otherwise a system outage could be mean serious problems for the organization.
VDI: Benefits to both the MSP and end-customer
VDI has thus risen to become the ultimate solution for desktop management. In essence, VDI empowers MSPs to manage desktops similarly to how they manage servers. By centralizing desktop software and computing power, VDI enables MSPs to deliver a superior desktop experience without the problems and inefficiencies of traditional desktop management. So not only can MSPs deliver a more powerful, available, and diverse desktop experience to customers, but they can streamline their management of the service tremendously.
The benefits of VDI for the customer also include fully customizable desktop profiles, profile-based application access, data backup and protection, as well as up-to-date security. These kinds of improvements maximize the utility and satisfaction of the user experience, which leads to greater customer satisfaction. For the MSP, the advantages are also numerous: lower administrative, startup, and maintenance costs, decreased impact on the service, higher client capture rates, and a more comprehensive service delivery model (like ITaaS).
How to implement a hosted VDI program
One thing to keep in mind is that some people may have a negative impression of VDI as it usually is complex or difficult to implement. Indeed, many first-time implementations tend to fail due to user experience challenges, performance issues, and cost. However, the key to successful VDI implementation is a proven track record: you can partner with an organization who has already completed and integration the necessary components of a VDI program.
So instead of trying to develop an internal VDI platform — which can take up a ton of resources and time you may not have — you can deliver hosted VDI through a ready-made platform from a technology partner. This way, you don’t need to waste time or resources building VDI from scratch, but you can still retain maximum control over the service delivered to your customers. This kind of hosted option eliminates the technical challenges, added costs, and risks of a custom VDI implementation, while still delivering all of the VDI benefits
VDI takes all the key lessons learned from server management and applies them to desktop management, turning the desktop into both a lucrative and positive customer experience. It’s also a dramatic enhancement to traditional remote monitoring of desktop devices, allowing MSPs to offer significantly improved security, availability, and end-user experiences.
MSPs can leverage and monetize VDI as a service product improvement, as well as a method of lowering desktop management costs. Why not leverage VDI technology to increase your own profitability?
About the author:
A creative technologist with a mind for business, Vadim Vladimirskiy is the head honcho at Adar. Vadim’s the brains behind the evolution of Nerdio, bringing Streaming IT to the masses – that is, small and medium sized organizations.
Charles Weaver is the CEO of MSPAlliance, an international standards and accrediting association for managed IT service providers. He is responsible for growth of membership, expansion of membership services, and strategic targeting of consumer markets for MSPAlliance. members.