Back to blog Windows Virtual Desktop vs HiveIO – making the right choice

The effect that cloud technology has had on the enterprise in a short space of time is mindblowing. We’re not just talking about the shift away from the corporate data centre and the delivery of software, but of the whole philosophy of business IT.

This is not just about computing itself; it’s about the way that services are paid for; it’s about the separation of software and hardware and it’s about the very way that people work together.

The growing use of VDI is a perfect example of this. More and more organisations are turning to this way of working. According to a report from Research and Markets, the global market for VDI systems is expected to have a CAGR of 27 percent over the next three years – a sign of how widely the technology is being adopted.

VDI benefits

The advantages of VDI have been widely detailed: more flexibility, the possibility of lower cost, better control from the IT manager, better security and so on. It’s been especially effective during the COVID-19 pandemic as a means of incorporating remote workers.

But while there are many advantages: the choice isn’t always straightforward. It’s important to make the right decision on provider, it’s important to get to grips with the cost – from an early stage – and it’s vital to understand the public cloud. There’s a reported shortage of skills in this field and it’s crucial that cloud specialists are utilised in rolling out VDI.

With many VDI offerings on the market, there’s plenty of choice but when it comes to deciding how much a VDI implementation will cost them, it starts getting complicated. The difficulty comes because not all VDI solutions have the same licensing plan.

Unfortunately for organisations trying to make sense of the possibilities, there are several different types of licence. Some are defined by time period; perpetual and some annual, for example. Some Microsoft offerings require additional licences; some VDI implementations also require a specific maintenance contract. So, even before a company has to decide which solution is the right technical fit, there’s the minefield of licensing to consider.

This is the sort of decision making that is best undertaken by an expert. The number of permutations can be highly confusing and it’s important to use a provider like Cloudhelix to assess what type of implementation is required and what the likely cost is.

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Microsoft concerns

While these complications are common to all vendors, there are particular issues with Microsoft’s. In this particular instance, there’s not only the question of licensing but so many other factors to consider: the geographic location, the number of users, the type of virtual machine that’s being deployed and what workload is being run – there are so many variables, all dependent on the type of configuration that’s required.

To examine some idea of the inherent complexities, let’s look at the contrast between Microsoft Virtual Desktop (MVD) and one of the leading competitors, HiveIO.

Because of the wide disparity of instances, there’s no one easy answer as to the cost savings. To begin with, the Microsoft costs are dependent on where the desktop is located (as there are regional differences in the price); whether the desktops are personal or pooled; whether they’re running at peak times or off-peak; what type of workload is running and for how long. Just looking at this list of variables, it’s easy to understand why it’s often hard to make an exact comparison and why there’s a need for an expert to navigate the minefield of configurations.

To make comparisons easier, let’s take just one example: this is based on a premium SSD (defined as a P10 128 GB 500 IOP 100 MB/s) being run by 100 users. By considering a medium and a heavy workload, we can see how Microsoft can compare with Hive. The results are stark: in pretty much every case, Hive comes out on top. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about memory, temporary storage or cost – in every example, Azure trails to the Hive deployment. The difference in cost is particularly noticeable: Hive comes in between 40 and 72 percent lower.

Additional costs

Of course, not every technological decision is decided by cost, there are many other factors to be considered. But in this case, there are plenty of added complications.

First of all, the Microsoft deployment is far more complex than Hive’s. There are a host of additional options when it comes to deploying Microsoft and all of them have to be paid for, this is not something that is usually considered when first opting for VDI. These are not optional extras either: elements such as security, monitoring, VM backup and analytics can all entail additional cost.

It’s a bit like going on a trip abroad and finding a budget deal that undercuts your usual airline … until you realise that the budget deal entails any number of extra costs – payment for your boarding card, additional luggage, choosing a seat etc. It’s a similar position with Microsoft’s VDI except, as we’ve seen – Microsoft isn’t cheaper in the first place. So, just looking at cost on its own, Microsoft isn’t an attractive option. But it’s not just these additional costs that are a concern to IT managers, there’s the technology itself. There’s a degree of complexity in implementing a VDI solution across an enterprise and there’s a need for a good deal of expertise.

One of the ways that Microsoft has garnered a good size share of the market, despite the additional costs and complications, is that there’s a comfort in working with a vendor already widely known. It might be human; a comfort from working with a familiar sales team, then there’s the possibility of a common interface and a shared terminology. Microsoft has extensive experience within the enterprise and can call on that expertise to make sure that its customers feel well-supported – even if they’re paying over the odds for a less comprehensive infrastructure.

Complex service

That’s not to be under-estimated. Rolling out a VDI solution to an enterprise is not a trivial task. It needs someone who can handle the complexities of the desktop, understand the cloud and possess some knowledge of many vendors’ systems. This is because most traditional VDI offerings require some sort of integration with systems from other vendors – it’s not plug and play.

However, in the hands of a good partner, one that truly understands cloud and what you’re trying to achieve, there should be no hesitancy in going down this route. It means that the headache of rolling out the system resides with the integrator performing the transformation. And by using a product such as Hive, which is hosted on off-the-shelf hardware, with no speed for specialised equipment, it’s possible to keep costs down.

The VDI implementation still has to be put together, however, and there are many elements of the installation to consider. There’s a need to understand the intricacies of VDI, both technical and licensing, with an understanding of cloud technology and service delivery.

There are many examples of VDI projects that haven’t delivered what was required because of this complexity and because providers haven’t had the relevant skills. Cloudhelix can assess the worth of a particular VDI project and ensure that it’s meeting the needs of an organisation. That’s not just about comparing one provider with another, but about assessing what’s required as a holistic service.

The use of VDI can transform company performance. It brings greater security, it enables better integration of remote workers and provides a more flexible use of resources. Provided that it’s managed efficiently, it can also work out cheaper than more conventional implementations.

It’s this type of decision-making that drives the need for a provider like Cloudhelix, a company with a firm understanding of VDI and an appreciation of the complexities of public cloud. By partnering with us, it’s easy to see how companies that go down the VDI path are able to reap the benefits. Talk to us today to get started.

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Posted in Business, Cloud Development on Nov 03, 2020