Yesterday I wrote a blog post called, “Is VDI dead?” Several of the comments and reactions from LinkedIn and Twitter were along the lines of, “That’s nice, but the real question is whether 2019 is the year of VDI!"
Whether a given year is The Year of VDI has been a sort of running joke for over ten years. Even at VMworld in Barcelona last month, people came up to me saying things like, “So now that you’re at VMware, I guess it’s finally the year of VDI?”
My answer was simple and consistent: No.
I don’t know where The Year of VDI meme began. I know for sure it wasn’t me. Heck, I'm the guy who wrote The VDI Delusion, so I hardly think I’d be one to declare any year The Year of VDI. :)
Ok, we get it. You never said that.
But you know who did say it? VDI book author, blogger, VMworld speaker, and VMware EUC Champion, and one of my favorite industry personalities, Johan "Bearded VDI Junkie” van Amersfoort. To quote from a blog post he wrote a week ago, "Is 2019 finally the year of VDI? YES!"
Johan also created a survey about how you’re using VDI, which you should definitely do (one page).
The twitter conversation around this topic has blown up over the past few weeks, with Johan (and others) saying yes, and me (and others) saying no. Since Johan presented his arguments for yes, I’m going to use this post to argue against.
Why 2019 is not the year of VDI
Before we can declare whether 2019 (or any year) is The Year of VDI, we should probably decide what metrics we’d use to make that determination. For example, is The Year of VDI:
- When the number of VDI desktops surpass non-VDI?
- When VDI surpasses RDSH?
- When VDI is “ready” and actually works and is not hype?
- When VDI becomes super trendy and the most talked-about topic?
- Something else?
If I look at that list, I don’t think any one of those is a 2019 thing. Number of VDI desktops surpassing traditional? Maybe never, and certainly not 2019. When VDI surpasses RDSH? If you’re taking about raw VMs, that probably happened a few years ago. If you’re talking about users, maybe that’s around now? (Though it doesn’t matter, because that’s a nuance.) Is The Year of VDI when VDI actually works and is not hype? That happened back in 2013-2014. Is it when VDI becomes the hottest topic in the industry? Again that was probably five years ago, since now everyone is talking about “workspaces."
So based on those criteria, I can objectively say that 2019 will not be the year of VDI.
But none of those are the real reasons I don’t want to declare it.
The REAL reason 2019 is not The Year of VDI
VDI was invented in the 2006-2008 timeframe. Back then, there was no “enterprise mobility”. (It was about BlackBerrys.) Back then, Mac was not a thing in the enterprise. SaaS and the cloud were not really things. You know what enterprise EUC was about? Windows! That’s it. The big conversations were “laptops versus desktops”, VPNs, and antivirus software.
This is the world that Citrix / RDSH came into. For a decade it was “physical Windows” versus “RDSH-based remote Windows.” So when VDI came into that world, it was a big deal. “What? Some new hybrid technology that combines elements of the only other two ways we know how to do things???”
So obviously VDI was a big deal back then and something we talked about A LOT!
But that was EUC ten years ago. If we look at EUC today, we have:
- Windows laptops, desktops, RDSH remoting, and VDI remoting
- macOS devices & apps
- iOS / Android / mobile
- Web / SaaS / Cloud apps
- User & identity
- Content, data & files
- Intelligence & analytics
Ten years ago, VDI was a full one-third of all of EUC. Today, VDI is one form factor of one platform of one aspect of EUC. It’s a subset of a subset of a subset of the conversation. Take a look at one of the slides I build when I speak talking about VMware’s EUC strategy:
Is VDI in there? Yes, but it’s like 5% of the picture.
So this is my big fear about declaring 2019 (or any year from this point on), The Year of VDI. I don’t want to mislead people into thinking VDI is more important than it is. And if we have a conversation about EUC in 2019 that focuses on VDI, then that conversation is missing the bigger picture.
VDI is awesome and it works!
I want to be very clear that VDI works fine. The technology works fine. I agree with everything Johan wrote in his blog post about why VDI is awesome now.
VDI is important and will be around a long time (as I wrote yesterday). But focusing too much on VDI does a disservice to the more important conversations and trends happening in EUC today.
VDI is like the tires on your car. They’re important. Entire industries and companies are built around them. They’re always improving. People have nerdy religious battles over which are best. But in the larger context of the car, the conversation is about the car as a whole. I don’t expect that Motor Trend will declare 2019 as The Year of the Tire, as I don’t expect that we should declare 2019 The Year of VDI.