Our industry loves buzzwords. We have seen this happen since the dawn of IT, with new phraseology coming and old ones being retired.
I hear about VDI a lot. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Sounds interesting. Unfortunately the number of “definitions” are so varied that every day the term means less and less.
Some years back I took the Question Based Selling program. Many of you who read this probably did as well. So when I hear a prospect or customer talk about doing, wanting to do, thinking about, VDI, I use the response from that training “how do you mean?”
Unsurprisingly, the answers are varied. Often they will resemble at a high level the slanted proposal from a vendor. By asking questions, I find that most times, the whole concept is not well thought out. VDI, in most flavours, has a significant impact on network infrastructure, bandwidth, perimeter devices, skills and usability. VDI is often associated with a specific technology. Examples include running a virtual machine containing a full OS and applications, or we see it presented as a new way of describing thin client, or sometimes some middle ground with a rich OS on the client but some things streamed and some things virtualized at the application level.
Invariably, a consultative approach will reveal that no one of these models serves even 80% of the business needs, and in most cases, what the customer-prospect actually needs is all of them and more. The perception in that marketplace today is that the customer-prospect has to settle. This is wrong. They don’t have to settle for a solution that doesn’t provide the scope and agility needed by the business.
Many of the VDI “solutions” aren’t actually solutions at all. They start with a shipping product, what the market refers to as COTS (common off the shelf) software and then wrap it in a lot of custom code that requires a lot of specialized services. Interesting, but as noted in a recent Harvard Business Review article shared with me by Patrick Hynes, that doesn’t change the world, it perpetuates an aging model.
REDI is our answer to the customer question, “how do I best deliver desktops as a service to my business, based upon the needs of the user, group or role, leveraging bandwidth, equipment, load, capacity and efficiency in a complete manner?” Hence not a bunch of point products that only address one vector, or a compendium of non-integrated point products. The key that I hear from customer execs is that it’s not about OS virtualization or app virtualization or streaming, it’s about a standardized management framework that facilitates all of these deliverables. And the binding of that to Identity is not an optional step, it’s integral in what the consumer of the service receives. If we concur that IT is a Service Provider to the Business, then the Service Provider must place significant focus on delivering what the business needs, not just the technology therein. So this includes the management framework, the security, the identity, the redundancy, flexible delivery models tuned to the workload, and of course must provide the recipient of the service the ability to see at a glance what the deliverable quality looks like.
We all have service delivery expectations. Think about your own expectations for your personal mobile, or high speed internet, or online banking. There is a service level agreement in there explicitly or tacitly understood and when we as customers can see validation that we are getting what we expect, we are happier. The same thing applies to the business obtaining services.
I have to give a ton of credit to Steve Ewald, Valentin Mihai, Jerry Combs and the other team members who have taken standard Novell offerings and built them into a comprehensive answer to the problem of managing a complex deliverable that doesn’t force the end customer into some constrained box. I thank them for the education they’ve provided to me, and as I’ve been talking about the model with customers via presentation, telephone and whiteboard, I have to say that it works. I was at a prospect just a week ago where the senior executive in the room said to the CE and I that while he has heard VDI so much it means everything and nothing to him, our conversation was the first time he heard any vendor show up with a complete story and scalable solution that was sufficiently modular and that could fit the evolving requirements his team was working on.
We’ve all seen it happen in technology. Brilliant ideas that are too early for the marketplace. A solution that is so exciting, it turns into a mess as everybody wants to play “me too” with many players engaging too late in the game. In my opinion, we are in the right place at the right time with a solution that actually works and woe upon us if we don’t get out there and take the lead in this incredible market opportunity. Amazing technology, put together to solve business problems, using existing and proven components that leverages the existing customer investment. That’s REDI. That’s what makes our offering special and why we can lead this space. VDI is the ship that never left the dock, REDI is the ship that traverses the world.
Until next time, peace.