Over the last year or so, we've seen increased momentum of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in the large enterprise market. In most cases, interest in VDI is motivated by a desire to minimize IT support cost through centralized application deployment and management. However, the benefits of VDI extend well beyond IT cost reduction. In my opinion, the real promise of VDI is that it enables Virtual Organizations by providing users with access to their data, their applications, and their desktops from wherever they are, thus enabling people to work productively independent of location.
For organizations to become truly virtual, however, they not only need to provide users with access to their applications, they also need to provide users with access to other users—their coworkers, their partners, their customers, their suppliers. Unified Communications (UC) technology does just that: it enables virtual access to others by providing a face-to-face experience across the network which allows users to interact as if they were virtually in the same location.
Consequently, UC and VDI have extremely synergistic value propositions: while VDI virtualizes data and applications, UC virtualizes people, and both are needed to fully deliver on the vision of a virtual organization.
Ironically, however, UC and VDI technologies don't work together very well today: running interactive voice and video applications in VDI environments creates bandwidth, scalability, and quality problems that are not well addressed by existing VDI technologies. Avistar currently solves these problems with our Avistar C3 Integrator™ product, which supports out-of-band voice and video streams that bypass VDI connections altogether and instead route voice and video in a peer-to-peer fashion between communicating entities. However, for UC and VDI to truly coexist nicely, the industry must move away from application-specific solutions and instead build support for out-of-band UC communications directly into the VDI platform. Only then can UC and VDI be combined to truly deliver on the promise of virtual organizations.