You’ll probably remember a few years ago when it was the “Year of VDI.” OK, that’s kind of funny because it feels like it’s been the year of VDI for the last decade. What I’m talking about is the days in around 2011-2012 when the iPad was becoming a sensation among consumers and VMware and Citrix quickly responded to make sure they were both ready.
The result was that every keynote over those couple of years featured an on-stage demo of running a VDI session on an Apple iPad in order to bring on oohs and ahhhs from the audience. There were giveaways galore of iPads by every vendor, and it seemed like a race for people to get on board.
Why Aren’t You Using VDI on an iPad Today?
Fast forward to today, and let’s see how many of us are using a full Windows desktop on an iPad for your day-to-day work? Probably a rather small percentage. This is because the novelty of it outweighed the real usability. What did happen was that we realized the novelty introduced a new bottleneck. We suddenly realized that the thing we really wanted inside that VDI session was the applications!
So, what happened? This also coincided with some of the largest growth in SaaS application companies and core services like email and document management making their way to services such as Office 365 and Google Docs/Gmail as the primary platform. In a sense, it was the perfect storm that was about to make the VDI on a tablet a flash in the pan.
If you look around you today, we see more tablets which are iPad Pro and Windows Surface Pro. The Pro comes with the processing power to handle real applications locally while offline. Oh, that was the other thing. VDI on a tablet is great when you’re connected to a network. Where are you connected to a low-latency network with easy access to the resources? At work…where you already have a PC or laptop. Or at home, with access to personal computing resources as well.
Containers Inside Virtual Machines Are Next to Fade
This brings me to the next wave in our “that’s cool, but not really usable” story. Containerization of applications is becoming the new hot topic. This is being led out by a need to speed the velocity of deployment and the ability to scale and build using more composable infrastructure. Containers solve that for the most part.
What containers doesn’t solve as well is networking, infrastructure visualization, on-premises build capabilities and other fundamental underpinnings that have been handled more soundly in a lot of VM-oriented environments. This led to what is happening now around running containers inside VMs.
Over the next many months (potentially years) we may see the same transition as we get comfortable with containerization concepts and the underlying infrastructure. That will lead us to the same point with VDI on the tablet, which is asking “what are we trying to accomplish?” in our quest.
Hint 1: Just like with VDI… we really just want the applications.
Hint 2: You’d better start thinking application-level on everything.