Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) is making it easier for organizations to migrate to virtual desktops that can be deployed on servers in an on-premises IT environment.
Peter Mansell, global practice director for digital workplace at HPE, said that in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic more organizations will be moving to centralize the management of desktops to make their IT environments more resilient. To facilitate that transition, HPE is making available servers that come pre-integrated with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) software from Citrix or VMware. Those servers can be acquired under standard acquisitions with 90-day payment deferrals if required or as short-term rentals, he said.
Alternatively, organizations can deploy VDI software on HPE Greenlake, a set of servers that HPE manages on behalf of customers.
Historically, the adoption of virtual desktops has been limited for reasons that range from total cost to simple inertia. However, one of the downstream impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the greater centralization of desktop applications. In most cases, that will mean relying on either cloud services or VDI platforms that make it easier to access desktops remotely, Mansell said. The cloud, however, is not an option for many highly regulated industries that are required to maintain control over their IT infrastructure, he noted.
Of course, end users would still need to find a secure way to remotely access those servers assuming there is enough available bandwidth. However, from a management perspective, it would be much easier for IT administrators, who are now trying to push updates to a wide variety of devices as the bulk of the workforce continues to work from home indefinitely.
Up until now at least, resistance to centralizing desktops has been high among both end users and Microsoft. However, with the rise of the Azure cloud, Microsoft has been encouraging organizations to centralize management of desktops. Mansell said in addition to making VDI servers available, HPE is working with Microsoft to make virtual desktops running on the Azure cloud available to HPE customers as well. End users, meanwhile, increasingly rely on cloud applications, so the dependency they once had on applications that run locally has decreased considerably.
Each organization will need to determine whether it makes sense to centralize the management of desktops. Beyond ensuring business continuity, most organizations will be experiencing a significant amount of financial pressure in the months ahead. One way to reduce costs would be to reduce the number of IT administrators required to manage operating system and application updates across fleets of devices. In fact, some organizations may not even have to acquire fleets of devices if end users are employing their own machines to access virtual desktops.
Whatever the path forward, the COVID-19 pandemic has made more organizations aware of how easily their operations can be disrupted by events beyond their control. The issue now is coming up with a business continuity plan that minimizes the impact those disruptions can have on IT as much as possible.