Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Leon Adato, Harry Trott, Automic Blog, Liz McMillan, Angsuman Dutta

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

The Future of Cloud Computing: Part 1 - VDI is DOA

The answer is not SaaS, nor VDI, nor Cloud; rather, an evolutionary compilation of all these technologies

The impact that Cloud Computing has brought to the IT industry to date has been primarily beneficial to application developers, system admins, and network architects, and not directly to end-users of technology.

Yes, IT developers and architects leverage cloud computing’s flexible and virtualized compute, storage, and network infrastructure to build resilient applications that eventually benefit end users due to improvements in speed-to-market and improved up-time statistics, but the direct benefits to the tech-needy end user are still rarely recognized.

Most daily users of personal and business class applications don’t have the turnkey, on-demand access to the applications they need. At work, their IT departments at work are too slow in delivering the apps they need or refuse to provide them due to cost, limited resources, or lack of recognized need. At home, users struggle to deploy software themselves due to complexity, time involved, or again, cost.

However, advances in cloud-powered software and service delivery have started to revolutionize the way that end-users (both business and consumer-level) think about acquiring the tools they need to succeed. These innovations will finally give end-users with their piece of cloud computing value and change the way software is delivered, licensed, and used both on-line and off-line. Over the next several weeks, I will be releasing several blog posts on the topic of the "Future of Cloud Computing".  Below is Part 1, which describes the unrealized promise and eventual demise of virtual desktops.

Innovations in streaming application code… rather than streaming pixels… will kill VDI before it even fully arrives.

Do users really like or want Virtual Desktops? From the start, the concept of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is flawed for most real-world applications and use-cases.  No matter how optimized VDI compression companies claim their proprietary algorithms might be, they are still trying to push a proverbial “watermelon of pixels” though a relatively pinhole-size network to get what you need to your device.  It almost seems like all the stars have to align before VDI actually works for the every day, multi-location worker.

VDI technology refresher

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a method of enabling end-users with a client device (PC, laptop, tablet, etc.) to access, log-in, and utilize a remotely hosted desktop environment.  In order for you to get access to and interact with the remote environment, compressed screen shots of the display (what you would see if you were standing in front of a monitor) of the VDI instance are streamed continuously via network connection to your client device’s display screen.  Meaning, that a user could have access to a completely different environment including OS, applications, and network without actually having that environment installed on their physical client device.

What’s so wrong with VDI now?

For the typical everyday business user, who works from a combination of office, home, client-site and car, using a virtual desktop sounds perfect, but in actual practice, it’s a real productivity killer due to several key flaws.

  • No offline access.  VDI requires a persistent high-speed internet connection throughout the entire session of usage on your virtual desktop… and while wifi is supposedly everywhere, it never seems to never be reliable, fast, nor secure… making accessing your applications and data “anywhere and anytime” more of an under-delivered promise than a reliable reality.
  • Not as "Green" as advertised.  For all its press about being “green”, VDI is actually incredibly wasteful because it is architected to leverage only the compute and storage of a hosted server or cloud environment, while completely ignoring the processing and storage power of your personal PC or tablet client-side device.  With the exception of true “thin-clients”, which are not widely used by consumer nor businesses to-date because of their inflexibility to be used for anything expect for VDI, your client device, whether it be a desktop or laptop PC, is still powered on and consuming a similar amount of power as it would if you were utilizing its local resources rather than just viewing the streamed screen shots of your VDI instance to your device’s display. Powerful client-side (e.g. PC, Mac) devices are so relatively cheap, yet are virtually (no pun intended) wasted when leveraging VDI.
  • Performance and Graphic degradation.  VDI struggles with graphic intense applications like Engineering, Drawing, CAD, GIS, and Gaming applications because most cannot use the device's local graphic card to render complex or fast-moving graphics locally rather than streaming non-3D and/or pixelated graphics from the VDI instance.
  • Cost.  A typical private VDI environment set up from a leading vendor is easily into the millions of dollars after accounting for new data center space, servers, networking, storage, and virtualization licensing.  A large price to pay to duplicate and even derogate some of the applications and services that your users are currently using.

How were we convinced streaming screenshots was "the right way" anyhow?

Undoubtedly there are benefits of VDI, but most of the benefits are to the IT staff, not end-users.  Most of these benefits to the IT staff surround topics of license management, patching, and security.  Although I understand these benefits, I don't know how IT shops got on the path of streaming pixels with VDI rather serving the code instead which would allow them to better optimize and control application delivery and licensing than what streaming screenshots could.

Using the server-side to deliver application functionality, data, and licensing on-demand to devices directly

Sending pieces of the code to your device, using your local device’s compute processing to run it, and then getting updates pushed from the mothership server whenever you connect or security requires it seems like a much more streamlined approach to a VDI-like environment than relying on a high-speed connection to stream pictures of screenshots from a remote data center slice of a server. In this scenario, IT admins still get all the manageability benefits and licensing controls for deploying applications on-demand that they get from VDI… all without spinning up an entire cloud infrastructure to host a VDI backend  and without wasting perfectly good client-side resources.

How to replace VDI... Streaming application code, not pixels

Benefits:
• Any software delivered to your own device
• VDI-like features still present- updates/patches pushed, zero-footprint device wiping
• Fast, reliable, offline-accessible local storage and processing (w/admin approval)
• Native graphics performance for CAD, GIS, Visualization, Gaming, etc.

The next step - making "Cloud-bursting" workloads a reality

Added Benefits:
• Application code, data, and compute are on local device & cloud for ultimate workload flexibility.
• Local & Cloud Storage Sync for redundancy and faster processing by chosen processing destination
• Local & Cloud Processing Capabilities – Cloud-bursting a workload becomes a reality
• Native Graphics Performance

More Advantages of streaming application code rather than pixels

  • Applications and data can live on both you local device and the cloud; enabling you to "cloud-burst" large jobs
    • Enables you to choose where you process your requests, choose the location, speed, and even cost of your processing jobs
  • More flexible and functionality-based licensing terms
    • Stream apps to first-responders in disaster response situations, then remote wipe once tasks complete
    • Sales teams can easily give customer's full trials with automatic licensing time-bombs
    • Create SaaS-like easy deployment without changing a single thing about your successful legacy desktop applications
  • Similar benefits to traditional VDI for application updates, bulk maintenance, and security
    • Admins are still administering one application package for everyone to use
    • Can auto-push critical security patches or application updates
  • Enables offline usage
    • Since the application code runs on the client device, with admin approval, user can take the application off-line indefinitely or, using time-bomb or usage-bomb licensing, admins can limit usage of the application for a certain period of time or for a specific task only.
  • Extends the life of Desktop applications
    • Traditional "boxed" software companies are spending millions of dollars and years of R&D time to re-engineer their software “for the cloud” because they think they only way to cloud-enable their software is to write from scratch a multi-tenant web application that recreates their technology’s traditional functionality.  However, the usual outcome of this new SaaS development is watered-down, bug-ridden functions compared to their flagship desktop product functions
  • Less risk of software piracy
    • Since only the application code for the functions you need is being streamed to you, your computer will never have full application code; making it much harder if not impossible to pirate, re-package, and re-sell and full pirated version of the software.
  • Superior application performance and 3D graphics rendering
    • When you stream code to the device instead of pixels,  it could remedy probably the biggest problem in VDI, application performance and graphics rendering.
    • This enables entire industries like CAD, Mapping (Geospatial, GIS), Gaming, and more to become usable and controllable, rather than becoming “IT silos” that get treated managed, updated, and secured differently than other non-graphic intense applications.

Although the technology to pull off this type of code-streaming environment might not be full baked yet, the groundwork for replacing pixel-streaming VDI has already been laid.  As the cost drops for cutting edge client devices and their amazing processing and graphics capabilities continue to wow customers and set expectations on user experience, VDI implementations will continue fail at achieving their once great promise to stream any application to every user via only a web connection. It seems that VDI is perhaps only a patch-over solution while we wait on something better to come about.  Code streaming to client devices may be that answer.

Watch for my upcoming post:
The Future of Cloud Computing - Part 2:  Why PaaS will fail and how Software-Stacks-as-a-Service (SSaaS) will replace it.

More Stories By Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes, blogging at www.RyHug.com, is the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Skygone (www.skygoneinc.com), a Cloud Computing solution provider to SI's, ISV's, Commercial, and Government. Education: MBA in Project Management from Penn State University; BS in GIS from Bowling Green State University Ryan currently has 10 years in Enterprise-level IT Program Management and Operations Management, as well as vast experience in Enterprise System Design and Cloud implementation methodology.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
SYS-CON Events announced today that App2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. App2Cloud is an online Platform, specializing in migrating legacy applications to any Cloud Providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud).
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...