Top Three Cloud Client-Computing Trends for 2016

In 2016 and beyond, we believe VDI use cases will expand as cost and complexity continues to diminish, and security concerns continue to rise. Here are the top three cloud client-computing trends partners need to know.

Jeff McNaught

Jeff McNaught, Executive Director & Chief Strategy Officer, Cloud Client-Computing at Dell

For years, channel partners have leveraged the unique benefits of cloud client-computing to help their customers in highly regulated fields deliver apps and data securely from the data center to the endpoints in their organizations.

Here at Dell, we recently celebrated a milestone with the 20th anniversary of the thin client, which I first developed with current Dell CTO Curt Schwebke and our team at Wyse. The thin client is the reliable and trusted technology we’ve all come to know as the driving force behind server-based computing and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Two decades later, it remains easy-to-manage, energy-efficient and inherently secure. In 2016 and beyond, we believe the use cases will expand as cost and complexity for VDI continues to diminish, and security concerns continue to rise. Here are the top three cloud client-computing trends partners need to know:

  • Mid-market and SMBs are finally getting in the game

In the past, while many organizations recognized the security, mobility and management benefits of VDI, it was not very accessible for mid-market organizations and SMBs due to the cost and complexity of deploying a VDI infrastructure. With the maturity of hyper-converged appliances that take the guesswork out of VDI, it’s now possible for IT generalists and desktop specialists to deploy and maintain an entire end-to-end solution. The time from planning to being up-and-running has been reduced dramatically from months to just a few weeks, and the cost per seat has decreased to as low as $400.

For example, Burns Engineering, a Philadelphia-based engineering and construction firm, needed a way for its dispersed workforce to share and collaborate with each other. The IT team struggled to control the data being generated and shared across sites, while project teams struggled with bandwidth issues and file replication latencies. Burns Engineering worked with Bolder Designs of Christiana, DE to come up with a VDI solution, and ultimately chose the Dell Precision Appliance for Wyse, which provided an estimated $50,000 of savings at each branch ($500,000+ total), compared to other alternatives.

  • Mobility trends are driving customers to look for new solutions

Channel partners know better than anyone the perspective that businesses have on mobility in the workplace: it’s a great way to improve productivity, but it’s difficult to secure and manage. Not only do mobility programs require data to travel between more locations and across more devices, but they also increase the potential of lost or stolen devices or data breaches. While many businesses are turning to data-centric security solutions to enable their newly mobile workplaces, there is also a number of organizations in highly regulated industries which are turning to an easier, architectural approach – desktop virtualization – for its ability to securely deliver applications and data to corporate-provided and personally owned devices, and thin clients placed in areas from conference rooms to clean rooms, as a way to provide heightened security in a cost effective and easy-to-manage way.

One industry where we see VDI adoption rapidly increasing is healthcare. Doctors are increasingly using their own devices in hospitals and medical offices or on call to access electronic medical records (EMR). Of course, the nursing and clinical staff need to access the EMRs as well, so VDI offers an excellent way to meet these needs while guaranteeing HIPAA compliance. VDI is an especially powerful solution in this environment, since it is not affected by the security status of the devices being used by workers, since, in essence, it turns those devices into simple screens and keyboards to the server-based applications. This significantly reduces the issues IT has to consider when working with so many different devices.

For example, the Watershed Addiction Treatment program uses its private cloud to provide six-second access to EMRs, helping medical staff collaborate across multiple locations as expeditiously as if they were at the same site. While their old system was slow and unreliable, employees can now work securely and productively from the various locations, on a variety of devices.

  • Security is more important than ever

As executives have begun to realize the impact a data breach can have on their business, implementing an inherently secure infrastructure has become more of a priority.

For many businesses, this has taken various approaches. For workplaces where traditional laptop infrastructures make sense, ensuring critical data is secured and devices equipped with the latest advanced malware prevention solutions has become paramount.

However, many businesses are also realizing that to be productive, their employees need secure access to data in a variety of locations and scenarios. And this is driving demand for the most secure thin client devices such as zero clients or those with Dell Wyse ThinOS software, which ensures devices remain virus and malware resistant through an unpublished API and zero attack surface.

In fact, new research by Freeform Dynamics[1] highlights the role security plays in the decision making process for companies looking to adopt VDI solutions. The study, which surveyed 220 business leaders from around the globe, shows that 69 percent of business leaders believe the improved security associated with thin and zero clients is a significant benefit to their organization. The survey also shows that more businesses are considering implementing thin client solutions in sections of their IT infrastructures, with 70 percent saying these solutions have a natural role to play in a modern corporate environment.

While thin clients may be 20 years old, they offer benefits that are perhaps better suited for today’s market than we’ve ever seen before. Whether it’s reducing infrastructure costs, leveraging VDI to allow for greater freedom in BYOD programs, or the need for greater security and compliance in highly regulated industries, customers are looking for more tailored solutions for their needs.

Even if you don’t typically recommend VDI for your customers, for those looking to roll out a mobility program, or those with typical security needs (regardless of regulatory compliance), you should take a closer look. VDI and the new digital workspaces it enables, remains a masterful technology solution that can help your customers meet the demands of today’s secure, mobile workforce without overtaxing IT teams or IT budgets.

[1] Thin Client Devices Revisited, Oct 2015, Freeform Dynamics

Jeff McNaught is Executive Director & Chief Strategy Officer, Cloud Client-Computing at Dell