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VMware desktop virtualization takes advantage of NSX and vSAN

The future of VDI has been fraught with promises and disappointments. As the market matures, VMware is positioning itself as a potential leader by leveraging vSAN and NSX.

Strategic investments in VMware desktop virtualization technology make it a major competitor among virtual desktop...

providers as the collapse of cost and complexity barriers open the way for VDI adoption.

The costs and complex licensing that made virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) unattractive have since dropped and simplified. Security and portability kept VDI in the spotlight, and with those initial barriers removed, interest and adoption are likely to rise.

Different VDI providers have different approaches to this market, but VMware's acquisitions combined with its current software stack position its desktop virtualization technology as a potential leader.

Virtual desktop providers have different goals

Citrix, Microsoft and VMware are typically the big names you associate with desktop virtualization. Citrix has been central to the application delivery space for a long time, and Microsoft will always be relevant because most desktop virtualization addresses Microsoft desktops. The list of features each company provides is staggering, and their prioritization reveals significantly different goals.

Application virtualization remains the most popular usage of Citrix's technology, but the company is now positioning itself primarily as a cloud vendor.

Microsoft, on the other hand, focuses on delivering desktops and applications through its Azure platform. This can be a concern for anyone that doesn't want monthly cloud bills attached to their desktop virtualization service.

VMware desktop virtualization offers Horizon View, which is part of its Horizon Suite, and Workspace One, which enables the central management of mobile devices and virtual desktops.

VMware has a different approach to VDI. VMware initially approached VDI with advantages gained from server virtualization, which resulted in some surprising benefits. The use of existing infrastructure enabled impressive performance, isolation and proven security.

However, VMware still leaves the door open for third-party products. Citrix XenApp on top of VMware VDI, for example, is an effective service for both VDI and published applications.

NSX and vSAN boost VDI

The real future for VMware desktop virtualization is the expansion of both vSAN and NSX. The ability to use local storage for desktops brings down the cost per desktop, which has been a significant pain point for VDI. All-flash vSAN that uses cheaper solid-state drives in local hosts can push the cost and performance savings even further.

While vSAN provides a good foundation, NSX can change the game.

While vSAN provides a good foundation, NSX can change the game. The ability to use microsegmentation on a desktop means one of the most vulnerable points in your business -- east-west traffic -- has its own security cover. While this doesn't eliminate the need for other security measures, it establishes another transparent layer of security for desktop users.

While security is the prime feature of the VDI and NSX combination, NSX also provides portability. In server virtualization, this helps move workloads from on premises to the cloud. Current desktops in the cloud often come at a premium, but they can be useful for critical workstations and disaster recovery.

Security and portability advantages combined with newly lowered costs and simplified licensing are driving the future of VDI adoption. VMware's investments put it in a strong position to use the rest of its stack to offer one of the most comprehensive services among virtual desktop providers.

This was last published in March 2018

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