Written by Keith Ali, MD at Creative ITC
The unprecedented challenges of the last 18 months forced IT teams into a hasty adoption of remote working solutions. Many ended up with an unplanned mix of technologies which enabled business continuity but failed to give home workers the same productive experience they get in the workplace. Now, with 85% of employees seeking to continue hybrid working, IT strategy is evolving as organisations need to take a long-term approach to facilitating new working models.
Overcoming investment obstacles
Organisations are increasingly turning to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Trumping options like remote desktops and virtual private networks, VDI is easy to scale, while upfront CapEx costs are largely replaced by OpEx.
While this is an attractive headline proposition, financial approval for IT investment might be tougher than before – especially if you’re pitching to a C-suite still reeling from balance sheet challenges. That raises the stakes for choosing a sustainable solution that improves workforce mobility and productivity without increasing cost and complexity.
VDI adoption hasn’t always been problem-free. In some industry sectors, IT teams discovered off-the-shelf VDI solutions were unable to cope with the demands of power users dealing with graphics heavy applications. Many Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms, for example, failed to deploy VDI successfully for users of CAD applications using huge BIM files, giving remote workers a hindered experience and preventing collaboration. The result is that these power users have become effectively shackled to their office IT.
It’s now crucial for IT teams to build an effective, scalable solution for all users to unlock return on investment.
- Choose a tailored solution
Fortunately, VDI in the right hands can be engineered for the most demanding of settings. Purpose-built solutions now provide super users of big data or graphics-heavy applications with tools and experiences identical to or better than they enjoy in the workplace.
Look for 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. Their experience will be invaluable in unlocking the full potential of VDI.
- Select the right deployment model
Deployment models should be tailored to individual business needs, where IT teams are free to decide which workloads to deploy in the cloud and which to retain on-premise. To optimise ROI, look for a provider offering consumption in the cloud, on-premise, or using a hybrid model in a single seamless solution.
Decide who manages what: in-house managed options such as Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) or on-premise VDI, or Desktop-as-a-Service supported by a VDI specialist? Be honest about your in-house skillset. The MSP route can dramatically improve the business case with savings on data centre space, infrastructure, upgrades, licensing, application deployment, support and headcount.
Most organisations realise a better approach for overcoming approval hurdles and getting the best results from VDI investment is to build support based on a specialist provider’s ability to unlock much greater value for around the same outlay.
- Scrutinise value for money
A business case for any IT investment must, of course, be founded on a solid financial argument. Beware of providers offering VDI solutions designed solely with money saving in mind. Before and after IT infrastructure costs can remain flat or even rise slightly.
Be careful not to compare apples with oranges. 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 (TCO), usually 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 support the deployment.
Not all external VDI providers offer the same value for money. Scrutinise their technical credentials and be confident they can deploy the right solution and provide ongoing management, optimisation and support. Make sure you’ll benefit from the latest technologies and regular updates during your contract.
Many providers differentiate between VDI profiles for ordinary and power users. To reduce TCO further some VDI specialists have taken cost-effective consumption to another level by offering scalable pricing. Clients pay per user, per month, per profile by purchasing credits that IT teams can stipulate and reallocate any way they like, creating VDI burst capability and instant scalability for fast-changing business needs.
- Focus on business value
A business case based purely on financial savings ignores a host of wider benefits. Factor in technological gains like enhanced data security, built-in disaster recovery, faster IT provisioning, speed of access, improved version control and time saved eliminating rework and duplicated effort.
- Leverage productivity gains
End-user productivity benefits are often overlooked. The value of enabling project teams to work and collaborate effectively from anywhere should not be underestimated. For example, designers and engineers in different time zones can work together on complex 3-D building models, delivering critical construction projects faster at less risk and cost. Similarly, in healthcare settings, MRI scans can be shared by radiologists and department specialists – on devices anywhere – improving clinical decision-making and expediting treatments.
By taking a holistic approach to VDI investment, the result will be a compelling case and ROI that makes it easier for finance and IT directors to reach the right business decision.