How the cloud is reshaping end-user computing

In today’s world, many organizations have incorporated public cloud services into their workspace strategy. It is very common to see Salesforce used for CRM, Slack for collaboration, Google Drive for file sharing, and Okta for identity management. Let’s not forget Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps have reinvented the modern workspace.

And there are many valid reasons this is happening. The switch from CAPEX to OPEX procurement has allowed organizations to pay for usage over time, which lowers upfront costs. Security has dramatically improved, new features can be rolled out instantly and updates are made automatically. And by using a service which is operated by someone else, organizations are also able to reduce complexity and risk.

The core takeaway here is that organizations have transitioned from a design-build-support model to an as-a-service model. As-a-service has transformed everything from customer relationship management to user authentication.

But we’ve unfortunately overlooked a key technology in the list above. One that very much impacts the way organizations access their apps and data to get work done: end-user computing.

So, I’d like to spend this time addressing how the cloud has impacted the way virtual desktops and applications are delivered to end-users. Traditionally end-user computing, which encompasses the management of these virtual desktops and apps, has been dominated by on-premise solutions like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). But the cloud has ushered in the emergence of desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) which allows you to enjoy a SaaS consumption model. With that said, I’d like to talk about what this means for your workspace strategy of the future.

From desktop as software to desktop-as-a-service

The shift from desktop as software (VDI, RDSH) to desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) is already underway. This is because more and more customers see the huge benefits of DaaS. Flexible usage model, unlimited scale, elastic design, and easy setup make the case for an expedited time to market. With DaaS, customers don’t need to worry about running a virtual desktop platform on their own. They don’t need to worry about people with the right skills or worry about the tight integration of EUC infrastructure components anymore. This is because the organization who developed the solution is responsible for running it.

They must however understand the application landscape and its impact on data locality. User experience is king. And knowing where your application data is and how your apps perform when data and apps aren’t next to each other is imperative. The answer to this question does have a direct relationship to user experience and will impact your DaaS strategy. The best user experience is achieved when application and data are very well connected, often in the same datacenter/region. User experience is very likely poor when application and data aren’t well connected.

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Cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud-only

Yes, the cloud is a wonderful thing, but I want to be clear that this is not a “cloud-only” proposition. There are several use cases in which on-premises deployments make sense. We also have to confront the reality that there are downsides of using public cloud services. Migrating the wrong applications and workloads to the public cloud can have a very negative impact on your ROI/TCO. Regulatory compliance mishaps can create long lasting legal challenges. Also, the performance, or lack thereof, of the service or infrastructure resources can be a huge headache. And let’s not forget trust. Trust is built slowly and trust is destroyed quickly. The absence of trust can make simple things impossible so trust is key in every service model — including public cloud services.

With that in mind, we start to look at both modalities in tandem. What if you could use both public cloud services and deliver a cloud experience in your own datacenter environment?

I actually recommend leveraging both a public cloud services  and your data center infrastructure. Why? Because the future is hybrid. You should use public cloud services and on-premises solutions where it makes sense for business consumers, IT, and management. Don’t be a lemming: Cloud-first doesn’t mean cloud-only.

So what now?

VDI will continue to have its use cases and its benefits compared to DaaS. This is irrefutable.

But many industry analysts are predicting that the future of virtual client computing is desktop-as-a-service. This is due to the prevalence of the cloud. As organizations continue to adopt cloud services and get accustomed to letting others manage their technology processes, it’s safe to assume they’re right.

But don’t let me be the judge. Your homework is to evaluate these solutions for yourself. I implore you to familiarize yourself with both VDI and DaaS, in order to make the best decision for the future of your organization.

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