It is often said that the costliest challenge in managing any system is the PEBKAC — the “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair,” referring, of course, to the user. The most effective way to minimize the damage users can cause has often been to “lock down” desktops on computers and mobile devices. Various lockdown strategies have delivered varying results, depending upon the ingenuity of the user. Others have found their best path to achieving complete control over endpoints and users is through desktop virtualization.

Beyond the fact that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solves many of your customers’ application delivery challenges, it also helps you effectively and efficiently deliver technology services. Overall, it can reduce the number of support calls and eliminate the need to travel to customer locations, making VDI an offering that serves both you and your clients.

Put Their Whole World in Your Hands

When using desktop virtualization, just about the only software running on the endpoint is the VDI client. Originally, “VDI” stood for “Virtual Desktop Interface.” The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, wearables and more have evolved that to “Virtual Device Interface” and ultimately to “Virtual Device Infrastructure.” All other applications aren’t on the device itself, but on the server in the customer’s — or your — data center. Only the screen image, keystrokes and mouse movements are exchanged between the server and the endpoint. This allows a relatively small data flow to cross the network, decreasing necessary bandwidth.

While the earliest VDI implementations located servers in the customer’s data center, the cost of deploying and maintaining this sophisticated infrastructure often proved prohibitive. Many VDI servers are now located in service provider “cloud” data centers creating Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offerings which allow customers to enjoy the economies of scale created by sharing infrastructure with other customers.

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Not only does this result in much faster response time for remote users, it also means that all important files reside within reach of your client’s IT manager. This delivers many tremendous advantages:

  • Centralized Server Management: With VDI, the server is also the desktop, with each instance running on the server. This puts more than just server control in the data center, it helps run the actual desktop in the data center, where it can be preserved and protected.
  • Streamlined Upgrades: In a traditional IT environment, upgrades, updates and patches can become a major project. With desktop virtualization, these protocols are applied only once on the server and are instantly reflected on a user’s endpoint.
  • Consistent Interface Across All Devices and Locations: Users with multiple devices often invest excessive time in trying to keep their interface consistent across them, arranging icons similarly, crafting backgrounds, screensavers, drive mappings and more. With desktop virtualization, all endpoints access the desktop from one server. The user is presented with the same interface wherever they are, and a consistent environment between similar technology like laptops, smartphones or tablets.
  • Dramatically Improved User Experience: Often, a robustly configured server can execute much more than a mobile device. VDI enables full local access to massive databases, with only the results crossing the network to endpoint devices. This means that even remote users can enjoy far faster, more responsive access.
  • Instant Onboarding and Exit: Two critical times in any user life cycle are the points at which they enroll and are added to the network, and the time they are removed. Smooth, effortless onboarding encourages and enthuses new employees that they have joined a highly organized team. Adding a new user to a VDI is as simple as clicking to add a new profile and issuing a device with the VDI client loaded. When a user exits the organization, clients can simply disable their account.
  • Business Continuity: Organizations using desktop virtualization and VDI have enjoyed tremendous advantages with a mobile workforce, as it allows information access from any connected endpoint. Their files and applications all safely reside in servers, making it easy to quickly get any necessary information while traveling.

Offer All of This as a Service

Many organizations have complained in the past that VDI is just too expensive to implement and difficult for them to manage. However, by offering Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), you can turn that negative experience into an extremely positive one, since it allows you to immediately deliver great desktop experiences to customers on whatever device they prefer, and remove their need to manage everything.

Your strategic approach to providing DaaS offerings can scale handily along the broker-buy-build path starting wherever you may be comfortable. There are many DaaS offerings you can resell which are based on familiar platforms from Citrix, VMWare, Amazon Web Services and others. As you build your customer base you may choose to build your own DaaS infrastructure using any of the aforementioned platforms or others. As with all things cloud, the larger your installed base the more sensible it becomes to take more of the infrastructure under your own control.

Offering a VDI in a DaaS format makes the desktop a utility that your customers buy from you in much the same way they purchase a phone contract. You maintain complete control over their endpoints and desktop architecture. You can update and adjust them all from your data center, without additional travel expenses. Your support engineers can work with their users to solve problems online with mutual desktop control. In this way, VDI gives you more than just network management control, which can help you provide a more customized service to your clients as part of a long-term contract.

As more companies deal with a mobile workforce, they need robust computing solutions that allow their employees to do more. For solution providers, this means a new business model that can increase revenue and set their clients up for success.

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Howard M. Cohen

Senior Resultant Howard M. Cohen is a 30+ year executive veteran of the Information Technology industry who continues his commitment to the channel as writer, presenter, and advisor to many channel partners, ISVs, MSPs, CSPs, manufacturers, distributors and more. Howard is a frequent speaker at IT industry events that include Microsoft's WorldWide Partner Conference, Citrix Synergy/Summit, ConnectWise IT Nation, ChannelPro Forums, Cloud Partners Summit, MicroCorp One-On-One, and CompTIA ChannelCon.

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