SBC, VDI, SHD, VHD…Or shall we just say Desktop Virtualisation?

Usually the blog title would give an indication as to the subject matter, yet the title of this blog is largely made up of acronyms that you may or may not understand.  You are not alone – this confusion has reigned in the Desktop Virtualisation market, and  has perplexed many who  have attempted to buy those solutions for many years.

There’s no denying Desktop Virtualisation is a complex technology area.  It is one for which there are many use cases that spring to mind – Call Centres, offshore locations, mobile/remote users and security conscious environments.  The issue with Desktop Virtualisation technologies historically has been cost- that of the IT infrastructure used to deliver it, disadvantageous licensing models, and the costs of transition from legacy desktop environments.  This is what led to the myriad of Desktop Virtualisation solutions that we now talk about, summarised very briefly:

  • SBC –              Server Based Computing
  • VDI –              Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
  • SHD –              Shared Hosted Desktop
  • VHD –              Virtual Hosted Desktop

Rather than get into the details of these, the “choice” has been whether to provide users with access to part of what is ultimately a shared resource (SBC, SHD), or provide users a dedicated experience and the flexibility they are used to with a classic device (VDI/VHD).  Yes, the former is lower cost option, but there are many other considerations to be taken into account, too.

At Computacenter, we’ve undertaken many deployments across both technology types and support many thousands of users within a Desktop Managed Services – typically in relation to one of the use cases listed earlier. Many organisations have had aspirations to exploit the technology – but have been deterred by cost and complexity.

The market has been changing.  Where once there was only one real option (Citrix), there are now several, particularly with VMWare’s Horizon solution which has evolved significantly in the past few years.  Then there is the infrastructure, the original dependence on expensive compute and storage is being replaced with more commodity solutions and developments in the Hyperconverged area, offering a fundamentally different platform to turn the price/performance challenges on their head. Application layering technologies are becoming more prominent, and of course there is the topic of Desktop as a Service (DaaS – yet more letters).

On top of this we need to add the business drivers – the rapid growth of mobility and flexible working, the changes in the security landscape and the launch of Windows 10 all are driving organisations to reconsider their end user services and to explore new options.

All of these factors have led Computacenter to instigate some work, in our Global Solution Centres, to re-evaluate the market for this solution area, and as a result to redefine our propositions for Desktop Virtualisation.  Over recent months we have deployed a number of these infrastructure platforms into our Solution Centre, and undertaken a comprehensive suite of tests aiming to benchmark the performance, commercial viability, ease of deployment, ease of management and other key solution factors.  And we are doing this across both VMware and Citrix virtualisation solutions and an accompanying ecosystem of supporting tools (user and profile management, application delivery) – as you can imagine it’s a complex myriad of solution options.  Our objective, very simply, is to provide the most optimal desktop experience, but do so in a cost efficient and flexible way that meets all the needs of the modern user, and satisfies the business and IT department – reducing risk and optimising deployment and management processes. We’ve been getting some great experience of the latest technologies, and assisting numerous clients who are already looking into this topic with some early engagement into the process.

As it stands today we’re just completing the final tests and reviewing our findings from the first phase of the testing, and I’m personally looking forward to reviewing the team’s finding.  You can be sure we’ll keep you up to date with our research over the coming weeks.

That said, if you would like further details on the work we are doing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.



About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Computacenter in the UK & Ireland @PSBray

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