Dec 07, 2020

There’s no denying that most businesses are currently in crisis mode. The uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to transition their workforce to a remote capacity and integrate digital-centric solutions to keep everything running in the short term.

That said, few predicted the health crisis would last this long, or that a new wave of infections would make remote work a more permanent fixture of their operations.

Here’s the inconvenient truth: The era of in-office IT was already giving way to work-from-home environments long before the coronavirus dominated headlines. Companies that embraced this change early on were in a good position to make the switch, while those who took a slow-roll approach were left scrambling to adapt.

This disparity raises an important question: How can organizations quickly scale up their remote capabilities and future-proof their digital operations without inflating their IT budgets?

The answer: Calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) before you invest in a new remote work solution.

The Case for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Over the past decade, cloud computing has become increasingly appealing to businesses across industry lines. Moving to the cloud allows companies to cycle out legacy hardware and software, streamline workflows and improve employees’ access to key applications. The days of managing a fleet of company-owned devices and juggling software licenses are quickly fading into the background — and it’s easy to see why.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) enables businesses to create secure desktop environments that are run on internal servers but distributed to end-user devices outside the corporate network. This not only eliminates the need for dedicated workstations, it also makes it easier to patch, configure, and monitor the system as a whole.

While switching to a VDI environment does come with certain upfront expenses, the potential cost reductions speak for themselves. According to a study from Forrester, introducing a VDI environment saved one multi-college district around $3.3 million in hardware costs over a three-year period. Add to that the roughly $52,000 saved on software license costs and $630,000 from improved productivity and you can see why VDI is growing in popularity.


Calculating TCO for VDI Solutions

Although the aforementioned case study illustrates the potential savings offered by VDI, results could vary. This is because every organization has different IT requirements, end-user needs, and resourcing demands. Whereas a small tech startup may only need to create virtual desktops for a handful of users, larger companies could have to roll out VDI to multiple, complex business units.

Instead of using another company’s success as a benchmark, it’s important to calculate the TCO of VDI based on your needs and operational goals. For context, Gartner defines TCO as the “comprehensive assessment of information technology (IT) or other costs across enterprise boundaries over time.” This includes hardware and software acquisition, IT management and support, end-user expenses and the opportunity cost of downtime.

The first step to calculating the TCO of VDI is to establish a baseline for your existing infrastructure costs and the as-is state of end-user devices. This will allow you to compare potential implementation and management costs with your current posture. When calculating your TCO baseline, be sure to consider the following:

  • Number of users
  • Supported endpoint devices (laptops, desktops, etc,)
  • Average lifespan of endpoints
  • Software license costs per endpoint/user
  • IT personnel salaries
  • Monthly infrastructure maintenance expenses

After you’ve sorted out your current IT costs, the next step is to consider how VDI can reduce or eliminate many of your overhead expenses. This will require you to perform hardline cost calculations for each solution being evaluated. During this process, you’ll want to pay careful attention to your ongoing hardware management and support costs. This includes auditing which tasks your internal IT team performs and how much time they spend troubleshooting these problems.

Ultimately, your VDI deployment will likely fall into one of the following scenarios, with each having its own costs, risks and management requirements:

  • Some VDI integration, but you continue to deploy traditional workstations
  • Building in-house VDI using existing servers and storage
  • Building in-house VDI using new infrastructure (often cloud-based)
  • Outsourcing VDI infrastructure and support to a managed partner

Choosing to build, store, and manage VDI on-premises can leave you with steep infrastructure costs and may require you to invest in training for your IT staff on how to manage and support the new environment. Outsourcing your VDI or Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) to a provider can help alleviate these expenses and free up more time for other value-adding implementations. Of course, you’ll want to retain visibility over your VDI environment along with your security and compliance requirements, and verify that the provider is doing everything they should be doing (‘trust but verify’). This will make it help maintain oversight of your key operations and quickly recover if there is ever a data loss event or a security breach.

At Lume, we live for these complexities. Our managed cloud and infrastructure solutions are designed to empower your evolving IT strategy, reduce risk and set you up for long-term success. We’ll work alongside you to calculate the TCO of new VDI solutions, align your existing IT with your organizational goals and ensure you receive the ROI you expect from digital transformation.

Reach out to a Lume expert to learn how we can help pave the way to a secure, agile and adaptive remote work environment.

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