The consumerization of IT, the proliferation of devices beyond the traditional desktop PC and the rise of a mobile workforce are all driving forces behind the rise of VDI, or virtual desktop infrastructure. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the Workspace-as-a-Service market (WaaS), which includes VDI, Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), hosted applications and security solutions, is expected to grow from a $4.76 billion industry in 2014 to $9.41 billion by 2019.
VDI’s recent advancements, including improved storage technologies and full graphical processor unit (GPU) support in VDI desktops, are contributing to the rising number of workplaces enlisting VDI. In short, these changes now allow users to do basically everything in their remote VDI desktops that they can do using a traditional desktop or laptop.
As a result, a wide range of industries—from government and healthcare to financial services and legal services—are turning to VDI to become more flexible, mobile and secure. “Flexibility is really the key driver, particularly as new technology advancements—like storage optimization, layering technologies, virtual appliance packaging and, more recently, things like containers and graphics virtualization have really started to enable that flexibility to be achieved,” says John Abbott, a distinguished analyst for information technology research and advisory firm 451 Research.
Business momentum is gathering from user migrations—not just the heavily publicized move up to Windows 10, but also upgrades and physical to virtual desktop conversions, explains Abbott. Corporate and industry-compliance projects are also adding to the momentum. “The granular control you can now achieve with good VDI tools can really help customers meet compliance mandates such as HIPAA, FINRA and PCI,” Abbott says.
Along with better tools to meet regulatory standards, VDI also provides the option to easily remove a user from a system, denying him access to files and processes in the event that a laptop is lost or stolen or an employee leaves on bad terms. Maintaining security across all devices is also easier, since administrators can manage patch updates from a virtual location without having to visit each and every computer.
With these factors at play, more industries are unlocking the hidden benefits of VDI. The manufacturing industry, for example, is increasingly using VDI to give employees the ability to access everything from project and plant schedules to delivery lists from anywhere on-site. As a result, work patterns are much more efficient, flexible and streamlined. VDI also allows workers to carry around laptops, tablets or other mobile devices to access data, troubleshoot problems and more, without having to travel back to a workstation to complete these tasks.
“Because graphics processors can now be virtualized, or shared between multiple users, and because technologies such as NVIDIA Grid enable remote graphics display, we’ve seen new cases emerge from general purpose graphics through to CAD/CAM users at engineering firms, automotive makers and retail product designers,” Abbott says. These types of workers are taking advantage of remotely hosted desktops when project teams are collaborating or when contractors are working at remote locations, he explains.
As more industries focus on solutions that cater to mobility, security and streamlined operations, VDI will continue to expand, advance and thrive, says Abbott.
Underwritten by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, NVIDIA and VMWare.