Mar 11, 2020 Work From Home, Digital Workplaces, Next-Gen Nets
Posted at 14:53h in Nemertes Blog, Research Blogs, Cybersecurity and Risk Management, Next-Generation Networking
I am writing this as I prepare to travel for work, and so of course COVID-19 is on my mind. Beyond all the worries of the moment for family and community, I am thinking about IT (that’s my job, after all) and wondering: will the current crisis be the thing that pushes Desktops as a Service (DaaS) to really broad deployment?
Over the last 18 years, Nemertes has done a lot of groundbreaking research on all sorts of relevant tech, from infrastructural stuff like VDI platforms to unified communications and collaboration tools. We continue this line of study with our cloud, networking, and digital workplace research. I spent a lot of time in my earlier years with Nemertes talking about virtual desktops and session brokers and even the earliest attempts at DaaS, often with an explicit invocation of public health emergencies (bird flu mostly) and natural disasters like floods and blizzards as reasons all companies had to at least think about virtual workplace solutions. The cloud revolution seemed to slow the spread of virtual desktops significantly, and I stopped asking questions about DaaS a few years ago when it seemed to be stuck in a holding pattern with relatively low adoption and nothing but slow, slow growth ahead.
A few things prior to COVID-19 made me think that it was probably time to start asking about adoption and plans around VDI and DaaS again. These included the arrival of desktop services from Amazon and Microsoft, and the fact that, as we found in our 2019 Cloud and Cybersecurity Research Study, about 40% of enterprise systems remain in data centers rather than the cloud, with that share not likely to dip below 30% in the next several years. Also, a growing awareness of the serious economic impacts of climate change has begun driving greater corporate interest in solutions that can reduce employee commuting time.
And what the heck, let’s throw in the fact that the number 1 reason for deploying SD-WAN is no longer saving money, or improving site uptime, but instead improving the performance of internally-hosted applications, which I only just found in the analysis of our brand new Next Generation Networking Research Study data a couple weeks ago, since VDI can be a great way to improve the performance of an application over the WAN and Internet.
Huge numbers of companies and institutions such as universities are pushing folks to work from home, and more are likely to as the disease spreads. And they are running into problems with access: problems with bandwidth inbound, lack of VDI sessions or infrastructure, limits on VPNs, etc.
I fully expect that cloud-delivered VDI — Desktops as a service — will be pulled to the forefront of institutional disaster planning in the wake of this current crisis. Whether it is direct from AWS or Azure, or something like Citrix’s Azure-based service (which is offering special pricing during the crisis), DaaS will inevitably become part of the standard toolkit for work-form-home, with sudden scaling the key feature differentiating it for this use case from on-premises solutions. Combined with SCAPE — Secure Cloud Access and Policy Enforcement — DaaS will make future crisis response for desk workers, teachers, and students smoother, simpler, and more effective.