Mike Mason, industry veteran and non-exec chairman of avsnet, puts forward a view on the future in the battle of collaborative communication and desktop virtualisation and the approach that two of the industry’s heavyweights are taking.
Every so often the IT industry throws up some interesting challenges none more so than the current one between video conferencing and virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI).
Many organisations are addressing their video communications strategy as part of their unified comms play. There are indisputable benefits in terms of productivity and the associated travel cost savings, not to mention being carbon friendly.
Well conceived video conferencing solutions that integrate as part of an organisation’s unified communications platform, that are easy to use and present a good user experience undoubtedly help collaborative working for distributed teams.
At the same time the industry has taken hold of virtual desktop infrastructure and the inherent advantages this technology brings in terms of ease of desktop deployment, cost savings on devices, choice in using Bring Your Own Device and the security and compliance from centralised management. VDI negates the need for remote management software, plays well to disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity strategy, whilst enabling locked down images held in a data cente. This means sensitive information is never left on a device, but merely accessed by a device. This can also prevent copying, meaning employees can access and use data without any threat of valuable competitive data leaking outside the organisation.
So here is the crux of it – both very topical technologies that lend themselves to more flexible distributed working – but two that are diametrically opposed. For media rich video conferencing all the processing power is needed on the end point PC/tablet etc whilst in the typical VDI environment all the processing is done centrally in server based, virtualised desktop images in a data centre. However there may be some answers coming soon – which I’m sure will be to the delight of many – for in Lync 2013 Microsoft promises to answer this conundrum and offer collaborative communications in a VDI environment. At the same time Cisco has a similar answer as part of its VXI architecture and Jabber.
It is going to be a very interesting eighteen months to see how the market takes to Microsoft’s solution from their dominant desktop position as opposed to Cisco who will come at it from its network centric position. The software giant offers choice and freedom with its eco-system of partners in its architecture (Polycom etc), whilst Cisco will offer end to end product, ease of vendor management and one support agreement, but maybe at a greater cost. The chances are both will do well, as every end user has a slightly different set up in terms of how they will align the technologies to their business needs, which will lend itself to one or the other.
If you want to look at the pro’s and con’s of both solutions within your set up – avsnet is extremely well placed to do this for you, with all the accreditations and partnerships in place to look at both and see which may suit and support your business.