I am a user of virtual desktops. I use them daily. At the same time I also fit into that “poor use case for VDI’ bracket because I travel a lot: and often require access to resources off-line. I’ve delivered many virtual desktop solutions, yet I'm a firm believer that for End User Computer (EUC) you have to be able to cover all eventualities; and that will undoubtedly mean having tech to support off-line (and by off-line I mean laptop) use.
There are many camps that say “to heck with VDI, it’d be easier if we give every a laptop”. Yet, there are considerations for your laptop estate, including (but not limited to):
- Laptops are portable - Well... duh you might say. Yet, have you pondered that some may not want to have to lug them round? So, where do you store the laptops for users who don't work from home? For those that do..what do they lug them about in? Does everyone get a mouse? Screens and keyboard for those who want to work at a desk? Docking Stations for roaming/not roaming? What about devices such as mice/keyboard/monitor at home - is that in-policy, out-of-policy? Not only that, being portable means they are portable not just to your users, but to vagabonds and vagaries who can cause the laptops to be spirited away. Do you combat that by giving users additional security procedures or devices?
- They are subject to a range of environments – almost as an extension of the above, laptops are subject to environments where the cup of tea/glass of pop/glass (or bottle) of wine can do far more damage than to a desktop PC. Or they can be dropped. Or misplaced. Or lost (where misplaced is you find it again..and lost is, you do not) . Or, put on top of a car and then forgotten about, and then reversed over (which didn't happen to me, I was just in vicinity while the tale of woe was reported. Not proud of this fact, but I did laugh: a lot.)
- They are tightly integrated – so a failure of one component is more likely to render the whole device inoperable. Break a keyboard on a PC and you can replace the keyboard. Granted you can plug bits in (keyboards, mice) but the user needs to have them to hand. Break a screen – replace the monitor. When that happens on a laptop – not so easy: who is doing that task?
In all – laptop delivery can give user own compute power, give users the facility to work offline: but you can’t represent that value without a taxation.
Have you considered what will happen should it all go horribly wrong?
Consider that most organisations consider DR for their datacenter or their office. But, each laptop user is essentially a roaming office.
Yes, a laptop is only one user. Yes the needs of the one outweighed by the many.. but when that one holds sales figures for the quarter, when that one is bringing in the next big order,when that one is your CEO...
How do you recover them?