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Could VDI be the answer for your business? Keith Ali, MD at Creative ITC discusses it

As working from home is more commonplace, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is fast becoming a consideration for businesses.

VDI essentially hosts entire desktop environments on a centralised server and deploys them to end-users on request. It can answer questions of security, management and much more.

Drawing on years of experience deploying remote working technologies to some of the world’s leading businesses, Keith Ali, MD at Creative ITC, discusses key considerations when building a watertight business case for investment in VDI.

The lockdown-driven surge in VDI adoption as IT teams rushed to enable business continuity shows no sign of slowing as organisations now transition to long-term hybrid working models. However, many IT teams are finding it harder to obtain financial approval in the current climate. For firms still wrestling with balance sheet challenges, securing investment for the remote working long haul is a tough ask. 

You can’t ignore the fact that VDI adoption in some industry sectors has been problematic. Many IT teams have discovered off-the-shelf VDI platforms were unable to cope with the real-world demands of power users dealing with graphics heavy applications away from the workplace, resulting in frustration and poor productivity. They now face the tricky task of overcoming C-suite caution plus user reluctance arising from poor experiences.

Creative ITC MD Keith Ali shares his five top tips on how to choose the right VDI solution and ensure your business unlocks ROI from the hybrid working future.

Not all VDI platforms or providers are the same

Providers pitching one-size-fits-all solutions wrongly assume all staff will have the same needs and interact similarly with VDI – they don’t and won’t. 

Look for a purpose-built platform that assures user experience identical to, or better than, in the workplace. A supplier with a successful track record in your sector – one who fully understands virtualisation in the cloud and how industry-specific applications and network services behave together – will be invaluable here.

Recognise internal strengths and limitations

Many IT teams have discovered that implementing and managing a VDI solution long-term is anything but simple. The challenges of dealing with legacy infrastructure, cloud deployment and app optimisation frequently derail VDI projects. Be honest about your team’s skillset and examine existing infrastructure closely when choosing a deployment model. The managed service provider (MSP) route can quickly pay back with savings on data centre space, infrastructure, upgrades, licensing, application deployment, support and headcount.

One of the biggest considerations is how to deploy VDI workloads securely and compliantly. Many IT teams need the freedom to consume VDI in the cloud, on-premise, or using a hybrid model. So, look for a platform that allows you to do that in a single seamless solution.

Of course, not all MSPs offer the same value for money. Scrutinise their technical credentials and abilities to provide ongoing management, optimisation and technical support. Check your business will benefit from access to the latest technologies and how often these will be updated. 

Make sure the numbers stack up

Check cost comparisons are like-for-like. In moving from on-premise VDI or WVD managed in-house to Desktop-as-a-Service delivered by an MSP, start by calculating the total cost of ownership over a five-year period. In-house expenses should include PC hardware refreshes, virtualisation software and additional GPU, together with costs associated with system administrator salaries, power, rack space, out-of-hours staffing and training costs.

To strengthen your business case, look for an MSP offering scalable pricing. Pay per user, per month, per profile by purchasing credits you can stipulate and reallocate, providing instant VDI burst scalability as and when needed.

Focus on business value

Beware VDI providers promising to save you money – chances are they won’t. IT infrastructure costs can remain flat or rise slightly. A more realistic approach is to build support based on a specialist provider’s ability to unlock much greater value for around the same outlay.

Technological gains include enhanced data security, built-in disaster recovery, smaller storage footprint, faster IT provisioning, centrally managed updates, and less help-desk traffic, leaving more time to spend on transformational IT projects.

Don’t ignore powerful workforce benefits

The value of enabling project teams to work and collaborate effectively from anywhere should not be underestimated. That might be team members in different time zones working together on complex designs and models, delivering projects faster at less risk and cost; or employees benefiting from faster access, improved version control, and time saved eliminating rework and duplicated effort. 

Optimising collaboration and business processes will have a financial upside. So, dig away to uncover these benefits using time/pay calculations or similar activity-based costing formulas.

A business case based purely on financial costs ignores a host of wider benefits. Taking a holistic approach to VDI investment will result in a compelling case demonstrating clear ROI, enabling your organisation to not only enable remote and hybrid working, but actually to leverage it.

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

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