VDI : Gold lining on the Telco Cloud

Presentation1 According to leading analyst firms, the hosted virtual desktop (HVD) market will accelerate through 2013, growing from 500,000 to 49 million units. And worldwide revenue will reportedly grow from about $1.3 billion in 2009 to somewhere around $65.7 billion in 2013 — or roughly from 1 to 40 percent of the worldwide professional PC market. As more enterprises adopt cloud computing and lowered total cost of ownership, cloud-based VDI implementations are forecast to nearly quadruple in the next five years. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the growing demand for highly secure remote access interfaces.

Desktop virtualization is a transforma¬tive, game-changing technology that can enable productivity gains, cost savings, increased security and more efficient use of IT infrastructure. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) introduces a new way of managing user environments. VDI allows IT administrators to host and administer user desktops on Virtual Infrastructure in the data center.

All VDI ( Virtual Desktop Infrastructure ) solutions have virtualization of the user’s desktop in common. A complete VDI solution may also include other design elements that compliment, extend, or leverage the core features of a virtualization platform. A full spectrum VDI solution starts with the user’s access device and includes a number of logically sequential components spanning the full lifecycle of user activity. The major use cases currently driving adoption of VDI are:

• Outsourcing: Companies looking to outsource development while retaining close control of their data and source code can use VDI to present developers with a fully functional desktop capable of installing development tools and rebooting without affecting other users.

• Extending PC Lifecycle: Companies facing a PC upgrade cycle or deployment of a major operating system upgrade might instead migrate to a server based computing model, redeploying existing PCs as Thin Client access devices.

• Unifying IT Strategy: Companies that have already invested in virtualization strategies in the data center and are seeking to unify desktop and server side processes have an opportunity to leverage server and client side computing loads across a common platform. Simplified disaster recovery, enhanced data security, and reduced headcount can result from such consolidation.

• Performance Driven VDI: Companies needing to introduce a demanding new application that strains current PC hardware might elect to deploy the new application as a link from the native desktop to a VDI session. This offloads CPU demands from the local desktop, both extending the PC lifespan and ensuring adequate performance of the new application.

• Enterprise Desktop Replacement: Companies seeking to escape the constraints of legacy desktop computing and move towards utility computing will benefit from more advanced VDI configurations with dynamic provisioning and personalization of the virtual desktop made available to stateless user access devices.

Virtualised servers and desktops hold the key to more efficient IT management. Although virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has historically been deemed too expensive, the recent surge of cloud computing offers a cost-effective, managed platform for VDI that stands to revolutionise the structure of enterprise IT.Cloud compute IaaS ( via which HVD / VDI is delivered ) constitutes the largest segment of the addressable market (the broader market also includes cloud storage, backup and archiving).

While SME’s offer the biggest growth potential many of these companies simply do not understand the concept of the Cloud solutions. Many consider it to be unsecure which is rather ironic, considering that most Cloud solutions are more secure than the average SME’s Pcs. As such to compete aggressively in the expanding Virtual Desktop Solutions market a Telco must consider the following realities :

• Ensure “ Reliable cloud,” achieved through redundant infrastructure clustering; thus able to offer a very high SLA for infrastructure availability — often as high as 99.999% . In general, monthly availability SLAs of 99.95% and higher are the norm, and are typically higher than availability SLAs for managed hosting.

• Offer a shared resource pool (SRP) pricing model or be flexible on pricing the service. In the SRP model, customers contract for a certain amount of capacity (in terms of CPU and RAM), but can allocate that capacity to virtual machines in an arbitrary way, including being able to oversubscribe that capacity voluntarily; additional capacity can usually be purchased on demand by the hour.

• A single architecture, feature set and cross-cloud management, for both public and private cloud IaaS, make it easier for customers to combine and migrate across service models as their needs dictate, and allow the provider to leverage its engineering investments more effectively.

• Offer a firewall (intrusion detection system/intrusion prevention system) as part of their offering, as well as access control lists (ACLs) and additional security services that will meet regulatory compliance needs.

• Support the use of Internet-based IPsec VPN, including allowing customers to use their own Internet Protocol address ranges. Some providers use Internet based Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) VPN to enforce secure access to management consoles.

• Offer a portal and self-service mechanism that is designed for multiple users and that offers hierarchical administration and role-based access control (RBAC). Telcos may offer monitoring as an option, with a hybrid hosting or other managed services offering.

The deployment of high-speed fibre and LTE networks means that organisations no longer need to deploy or own any IT infrastructure. Instead, they can use Telco networks to simply rent hardware capacity and software applications as and when they need them from so-called cloud service providers. With a culture of aiming for five nines (99.999% uptime) reliability, Telcos are well-suited to the delivery of cloud services ( such as VDI ) which are dependent on continual connectivity , appropriate bandwidth, quality of service, billing relationship , end-to-end security and hopefully customer trust.

Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )

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