Liquidware is betting that cloud-based virtual desktops will sprawl out in a similar manner to virtual servers, and is partnering up with the major cloud vendors in anticipation.
The early promise of VDI hasn’t really played out in practice, and pretty much all of the analysts ended up revising their now obviously optimistic predictions of 40% or more of desktops becoming virtual to more modest estimates of 10-to-20%.
“A lot of early adopters ran with scissors and hurt themselves,” says Liquidware co-founder Tyler Rohrer. They discovered that the server, storage, and network demands of virtual desktops were substantial, completely eclipsing any imagined savings of a reduction in the number of desktop PCs required. Thin clients never really took off, and BYOD tablet devices could only run native apps or browser-based software.
However, technology continued to improve. The capabilities of modern flash-based storage, multi-gigabit, low-latency networks, and the impressive compute density of today’s CPUs makes the prospect of running simple virtual desktop environments seem fairly trivial by comparison.
The hype has also fallen away. It seems that VDI has now passed through the trough of disillusionment and people are getting on with using it productively. At least to achieve relatively simple tasks. “With VDI, the easy stuff has already been done,” says Rohrer.
“You know our history in VDI,” said Rohrer, “and now the same thing is playing itself out in the cloud market.” Liquidware announced support for AWS Workspaces at AWS re:Invent in November 2017. “While I can’t say too much, it’s safe to say that we’re also beginning our collaboration with Google and Microsoft, which is really exciting.” Expect to see Liquidware support for Azure and Google Cloud Platform in the fairly near future.
Personally, I’ve always been a little cool on the idea of virtual desktops, cloud based or not. I admit I had a brief love affair with some Sun Ray 1 thin client systems that would resume my session as soon as I inserted my smartcard, but alas the early promise never translated into a solution that was more broadly useful.
I challenged Rohrer that virtual desktop seemed to remain a somewhat niche proposition.