The Pitfalls of Cloud-Washed VDI and How It Affects MSP's Bottom Line Thinkstock

The Pitfalls of Cloud-Washed VDI and How It Affects MSP's Bottom Line

Everywhere you look, IT solutions are migrating to the cloud. 

Everywhere you look, IT solutions are migrating to the cloud. Gartner predicts that in 5 years, on-premise workloads will decrease from 80% to just 40%. With the acceleration of public, private, and hybrid cloud implementations, organizations large and small are eager to take advantage of the cloud’s scalable and flexible potential. If you’re a service provider, this is a great opportunity to leverage the cloud to drive better experiences for your customers.

Cloud Washing

However, you should also be aware that simply tagging products as “cloud” is no substitute for truly cloud-native solutions. There is a trend among certain service providers to offer “cloud-washed” products — that is, products that are being rebranded and falsely marketed as “cloud” solutions. Many IT service providers will utilize cloud washing to piggyback off the popularity of the cloud buzzword. This can be done because in truth, the term “cloud computing” is quite broad, and can be used to describe any service that involves delivery over the Internet.

This is a big challenge for IT because ultimately you won’t be able to deliver to your customers the superior experience afforded by actual cloud-native solutions. While many cloud-washed solutions have some degree of cloud integration, the reality is their designs aren’t designed for multi-tenancy and self-service to support a truly cloud-native solution. Instead, service providers create a workaround by modifying and adapting their products to run on virtual machines.

Cloud-washed VDI

It’s easy to understand why a reseller might cloud wash VDI. In order to redesign an on-premise VDI solution from the ground up and create a truly cloud-native, multi-tenant solution, it would require a great deal of time, resources and a whole new set of design skills. Most service providers don’t want to spend the time or money. Thus, they take the easy way out: create a short-term “cloud” solution by hosting one instance of their software for each customer.

So what’s wrong with this, you might ask? Well, the implementation of such a solution presents problems. Essentially, the architecture of a single tenant solution is copied and pasted over and over and over again, in an attempt to resemble multi-tenancy. This means that each time you get a new customer, you’d be setting up a new tenant, adding capacity for scaling the instance, updating it, and troubleshooting it as necessary.


The operational complexity of cloud-washed VDI presents a number of serious issues. How do you update servers and databases for each individual tenant? How do you push updates to your clients, and to in-desktop components? How do you troubleshoot problems across all of your tenants? How do you add new users or use cases (such as video)? And these are just the service provider’s backend issues! We aren’t even discussing how IT departments and end-users ultimately suffer from slower system performance.

If there are technical issues, IT departments will have to perform root cause analysis that requires collaboration between multiple teams: server, storage, networking, virtualization and desktop. Cloud-washed VDI requires so many IT resources that it simply isn’t sustainable. The TCO skyrockets as a result of all this complexity.

This cloud-washing approach exponentially magnifies the complexity of VDI, and becomes unsustainable in short order.

Cloud-native Desktops as a Service (DaaS)

Now let’s compare a cloud-washed VDI implementation with a cloud-native Desktops as a Service (DaaS) solution. The entire VDI stack, including the infrastructure is delivered as a multi-tenant service. Customers can be up and running with enterprise class VDI in a day.

Scaling, high-availability, updates are all automatic - built into the architecture with stateless microservices.

There are a number of significant cost efficiencies afforded by cloud-native VDI, such as automated IT tasks. Scalability is a huge advantage of cloud-native VDI, as more capacity can be added instantly and infinitely as needed; there’s no ceiling to the number of users you can have. In addition, this kind of solution can be billed at a “pay-per-use” basis, so that your customers can easily manage theirs costs and scale as needed. They’ll be far more satisfied knowing they’re only paying for what they use!

For this and all the other reasons described above, cloud-washed VDI simply can’t compete with cloud-native VDI. Don’t take shortcuts: the easy way out now will only cost you big headaches and customers in the long run.

MSPs can augment Desktops as a Service (DaaS)

Customers increasingly want to consume everything as a service. Desktops as a Service solves only part of the problem. There are a number of problems that IT still needs to solve in order to have happy end users - desktop management, application management, and support.

Further, as customers start using DaaS in Azure, they also choose to migrate other on-premises applications to Azure and they need a trusted partner to do that. There is an opportunity for resellers and service providers to provide these services to customers.

A cloud-native Desktops as a Service solution enables service providers to rapidly (days vs. months) deliver a critical workload to customers. This workload then pulls many other workloads for customers like database migration, application migration, and business continuity workflows.

 

About the author:  Amitabh Sinha, CEO of Workspot

Amitabh has more than twenty years of experience across enterprise software, end user computing, mobile, and database software. Amitabh co-founded Workspot with Puneet Chawla and Ty Wang in August 2012.

Prior to Workspot, Amitabh was the General Manager for Enterprise Desktops and Apps at Citrix Systems. In his five years at Citrix, Amitabh was VP Product Management for XenDesktop and VP Engineering for the Advanced Solutions Group. Amitabh has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

 

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