One Vendor, Four VDI Offerings

On 24 December 2012 by Pete Petersen

Dell DaaS Overview

There are times in technology history when a single vendor is the center of a convergence, the right technology gathering at the right time.

Dell has hit the sweet spot.

No other vendor in view has such a round set of offerings. As pointed out in Simon Bramfitt’s post, Quest vWorkspace Returns on 16 October 2012, Dell has a great, rounded set of offerings to meet almost any need.

  • DaaS – which today is delivered in partnership with Desktone
  • An appliance-based solution– which today is delivered using Citrix VDI-in-a-Box
  • A flexible, low-cost, midmarket solution – Quest vWorkspace
  • An enterprise solution – where Dell offers both VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop

Let’s review each of these.

Dell Desktop As a Service (DaaS)

For those organizations that want the benefits of a self-managed VDI solution without the up-front CapEx costs, and who want to venture into cloud-based services, Dell has partnered with Desktone to provide DVS Simplified DaaS.

There are pros and cons here. Let’s start with the pros:

  • Elimination of CapEx. Moving a large up-front budget hit to a monthly subscription service allows for organizations to get their feet wet without betting the farm. Since VDI touches virtually everything in an organization (back-end systems, data, applications, users, devices, data center, virtualization, etc.), an organization can get in and try a very comprehensive proof of concept (POC) implementation without re-writing their IT handbook. And when they’re ready to move into the environment in earnest, it’s then just a matter of migration of user experience rather than the management of a full-blown systems implementation project.
  • Simplification of management. DVS Simplified DaaS and Desktone have provided a central web portal for management of the environment. The management, security, and maintenance of the infrastructure itself is management for you and is included with the solution.
  • Instant scalability. Think of this from an SMB perspective. Limited IT resources, little or no CapEx budget, and very little chance of getting into an enterprise-class offering of their own…until now. Dropping into this type of environment allows virtually unlimited scalability for any SMB organization.
  • Managed security. How about a partner that will go to an audit with you by your regulatory or oversight organization? The solution is also secured by connecting to the solution with a virtual private network (VPN), a standard way for organizations to allow users remote access connections into their working environments.

Some cons about the service:

  • Not a fully-managed solution. (See Solid Instance’s SolidCloud as a reference for this type of service for large enterprise and public sector organizations.)
  • Your organization will still have to manage operating systems (patching, licensing), image management (creation, deployment, maintenance), and user profile management. This is still not a small undertaking for an organization with no virtual desktop experience.
  • It’s the cloud. Any organization’s first venture into a cloud-based service needs to carefully weigh the risks, the capabilities of its chosen partners, and the real appetite to offload services traditionally provided by internal resources.

Bottom line is that this service fills a hole and makes for a well-rounded set of offerings by Dell.

An appliance-based solution

Dell DVS has taken Citrix’s VDI-In-a-Box and coupled it with a packaged hardware platform to create a VDI solution that is easy to manage, easy to implement, and easy to maintain. This is a premise-installed solution that is reminiscent of VCE’s vBlock idea. Take a box, drop it into the data center, and start logging into desktops within a few hours (vs traditionally a few weeks or months).

Some pros and cons with this solution as well. Starting with the pros:

  • Simple. Drop it in and install by following a wizard-based installation. Organizations can be up and running and logging into a virtual desktop within a few hours.
  • End to end. Can combine with Wyse thin devices to deliver a whole solution from end to end.
  • Utilizes HDX (ICA) as the protocol. This is the most efficient VDI protocol in nearly any scenario.

And some cons:

  • Limited. Simple is not always better. The solution comes with severe limitations that other solutions do not come with.
  • No Remote Desktop Session Hosts (or RDSH, ala Citrix XenApp or Microsoft RDS). See this post for more information on the difference between the various types of solutions.
  • No native profile management (such as provided by Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop). This is interesting since it is based on Citrix XenDesktop technology.
  • No storage space or throughput (IOPS) savings.
  • No external access (ala Access Gateway). Must be provided another way (eg: VPN)

A flexible, low-cost, midmarket solution

As pointed out in a previous post, Dell has not yet gotten into the swing of things from a vWorkspace perspective, and indeed from a Quest perspective. vWorkspace is one of those hidden gems that is poised to take the world by storm–if positioned correctly. It is able to scale easily, is easy to implement, and fills VDI need need of almost any SMB or SME organization.

An enterprise solution

Dell’s partnerships with VMware and Citrix are long-standing–and need to continue to be so. Dell sells more Citrix licenses than any other partner. Dell needs to keep that relationship, and the relationship with VMware. This set fills the needs of large implementations such as large enterprise and large public sector. Although a successful scalable implementation comes with a large learning curve, all of the tools and resources are here.

The Right Partner Is Key

Dell sales teams have named Logical Front as it’s go-to partner for VDI solutions–for a reason. Venturing into a virtual desktop solution without a vast amount of foreknowledge is fraught with risk. There has been organization after organization that has ventured down the road of VDI only to back out and claim the entire idea as flawed. Having the right partner going in will not only save money, but good long-term partnerships will ensure that future developments and competitive advantages are available at the right time–again, with a partner that has been around the block a few times before.

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