Desktop Virtualization. What do you use for a VDI solution?

December 10, 2013 by

Every week I get lots of great emails from clients and friends in the Managed Services Provider industry. Much of the time those questions are related to best practices and specific requests for information about tools like ConnectWise, AutoTask, LabTech, etc.
Lately I’ve been getting even more requests about Cloud solutions. I had a request from a great client earlier this week so I decided I’d go to my network and see what kind of responses I’d get.

Hopefully these provide something useful for you.  Email or comment and we’ll get your input on here as well.

Here was the question. “What do you use for VDI?” I got great responses from experts like Harry Brelesford, Karl Palachuk, seasoned veterans like Nick Seal of brightstack, and Bill Stucklen of Marathon Consulting and Stack Advisors

Here are their replies:
Well . . .

We’ve looked at several options. So far we haven’t found one that we would sell to our clients. In general the problem is speed. The virtual desktop really has to live right next to the virtual server, and then you have to connect with a beefy enough client to process the video locally.

That brings up the second problem. In the very small business space, I don’t know if there is a market for virtual desktops. A good high-end thin client will run $600-700. For larger companies that makes sense at some point. For small shops there are too many advantages to having disc space and computing power locally. So for just a little more they can get a “real” desktop computer. And even if they spend $1200 on a desktop PC, they’ll still be ahead for the money after a few months not paying for a virtual desktop.

I’ve heard some folks at Microsoft “hint” openly at meetings that they are on the verge of releasing a powerful VDI sku on Azure. We’ll see how it compares.

Bottom line: I’m not sure the market exists for this at the small end of SMB, and if it does, the products are not ready yet.


We’ve quoted a few VDI solutions using VMware, but have not yet sold anything.  The biggest problem is cost.  We have had two engineers train on it, and while it’s technically better, the pricing takes it out of possible options.  When businesses want to refresh their environment they have several options.  VDI is the most expensive option.  We live in a world of <$500 desktops, so asking a client to double that cost when they are generally price sensitive goes nowhere.  Microsoft licensing is too expensive for the proper licenses.  It’s usually an on-site admin that sees all the benefits, but that doesn’t translate in to any sense to the CEO/CFO when they are looking at something like $1200 per user with license costs when they can save hundreds per user with either terminal server or standard desktop roll outs.

 For the near term, Terminal Server and Citrix make shared/terminal server environments make more sense, or image based desktop deployments and we’ll continue on those paths.

 Beyond cost, a big thing to consider is SAN performance.  As SANs are more and more commoditized in the next few years the performance will be there.  Personally, I see brightstack offering the service and keeping it in mind for our next hosted design.  We will be ready, but I don’t see the environment as ready for it until around 2015 unless either the client understands the same benefits as the engineer or Microsoft changes their pricing scheme.



Citrix platform xenapp…we worked with some creative developers that created interface that allows us to deliver desktops under a multi-tenant solution.


Another thought from Brooklyn:

Here’s what I can tell you about VDI. I jumped on the bandwagon three years ago and went full tilt that this was the future. Largely it will do what it says if you spend 1000s of hours working on it. It’s not right for small businesses where each person does multiple roles. If you have a large organization where you have a lot of users doing one function (like data entry), then it may have a place. But most of the companies than the MSPs deal with will not find a good market for some time. The tech is there for big companies, not small.


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