Friday, December 30, 2011

Is VDI the killer App for Cloud Computing?

Virtual desktop technology has been around for more than a decade, yet it has not found wide user acceptance. Back in 1990's virtual desktops was only means by which a UNIX user could access a Windows application on his workstation or virtual desktops (VNC) was only means by which a Windows user could access a Unix application on his desktop/laptop.

The usage of virtual desktops were limited to small group of users - mainly computer experts and the common man had no use for a virtual desktop.

The early versions of Virtual Desktops was accessible only over the VPN tunnels or on the enterprise network. With the emergence of cloud in 2008, it became possible to access virtual desktops over Internet. Access to Virtual Desktops over Internet had a big implication - Virtual Desktops can now be accesses by a huge percentage of population. But there were still some limitations - people had no use for it. Users still needed a computer to access a remote virtual desktop - it was an absurd idea to have a desktop in order to access another virtual desktop! Most of the computer users had no need for two desktops and VDI still remained a niche technology.

In 2009, introduction of iPad and other Tablet computers started to change things a bit. People rushed in head first to buy the latest gadget. After few weeks, people realized that they now have three gadgets - A Smart Phone, a Laptop, and a Tablet. This meant that there was no real application for the tablet. Users could use a tablet and do nearly everything that they could do on their laptops but not completely. The tablets had one major drawback - Limited storage. Users wanted to access the files they had in their laptops, and started using applications such as "DropBox" or "TeamViewer". The tablets also had other short comings - limited compute power, so if one wanted to download & edit photos/videos - they still need their laptops.

All this created additional complexity for the user.

Users now have some of their data in their phones, some in the tablets and some in laptops. Having multiple devices causes additional baggage to carry around and synchronizing data across multiple devices/platforms is a headache.

Thus the need for a Virtual Desktop has grown beyond the geek world to the common man.

Need for Virtual Desktop is being felt by various users, but the need is yet to be clearly defined. Apple, Microsoft and host of startup are jumping in with their unique solutions in this space. iCloud, Skydrive, Office365, Azure platform, Zoho etc are all trying to address this need for the common user.

As a early adapter of various technologies, I have used iCloud, Office365, Zoho, Google Apps, DropBox etc, and found that none of these applications work seamlessly across all platforms. I need a solution which works across an Android cell phone or Tablet, iPhone & iPad, Blackberry, and Windows XP/7.0. ( I am still on XP and I am waiting for Windows 8.0)

A virtual desktop could be one solution that could work across all platforms. The current VDI solutions from Vmware, Citrix or Microsoft still does not need my basic requirement to work across all platforms.

As the year 2011 ends, I wait to see if a see if a true VDI solution emerges in 2012 - which can work across multiple platforms and makes life easier for the layman. If such a VDI solution is developed, users will embrace tablet computers in large numbers and Cloud computing will have its killer app.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Leostream desktops has come up with an inexpensive solution to this problem with the launch of cloud desktops. It's the fastest and easiest way I know to get access to your desktop from any device. They actually have a free trial at