How to Drastically Reduce Your VDI Dependency in 2024

Bradon Rogers

VDI satisfies very specific IT and security needs. For everything else, it’s time to consider a more modern alternative that is redefining workplace efficiency.

Reducing VDI Dependency in 2024: A Modern Approach

Desktop virtualization is a mature technology that’s been in use for decades. When the pandemic emptied offices around the world in 2020, desktop virtualization saw a huge jump in deployments. Enterprises were forced to implement widespread remote work strategies — in the span of weeks — and understandably adopted the strategy in droves. At the time, it was the best choice to deliver a flexible workspace and enforce security away from the mothership. 

Four years later, desktop virtualization is still gaining ground and the market is projected to top $20 billion by 2027. As we enter 2024, the technology landscape has changed. And yet the world is still using 20-year-old technology, such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), to solve its problems. Maybe it’s time to reconsider if desktop virtualization is the right approach for the modern enterprise workforce.  

Desktop virtualization is a mature strategy that can solve important IT and security needs, but it comes with high complexity, steep costs, and — it’s greatest weakness — a dreadful user experience. By offloading the application and data layer to a centralized service, every action the user takes requires an additional round trip that adds some lag. In the real world of noisy Wi-Fi networks, bandwidth-constrained environments, and dropped connections, this can be quite painful. The result is time wasted waiting on images to instantiate, frozen screen experiences, lag between input and response, and even reauthentication challenges.

That’s not to say that desktop virtualization could or should go away tomorrow. However, it is clear that organizations and users are hungry for avenues that help them reduce their dependency upon such application delivery experiences. 

It’s also important to consider the outlook on desktop virtualization. With recent acquisitions of the tech’s major players, it’s likely costs will only continue to rise while innovation stagnates.

With alternatives now available on the market, we can even go as far as to say that the vast majority of enterprises that will adopt VDI this year don’t actually need it. 

Let’s dig in on why.

The niche role of VDI

VDI gained traction as a technology that provided end users a streamed, self-contained computing environment, regardless of their device, delivered from a centralized data center. This approach gained popularity with IT and security teams, as it offered centralized management and access controls for a distributed workforce. 

Given the different needs between IT and security teams, it was the “least common denominator” they could agree upon. IT teams could put applications in the hands of their users, while cybersecurity could feel comfortable keeping data in the organization’s control. 

The onset of remote work made the strategy much more widespread, given that many organizations already had VDI infrastructure and experience. To many, it was the only imaginable avenue to empower the needs of the organization. The resulting downside? Most organizations are often upside down in their VDI investment (given that the costs are exceptional) and it seems there is ubiquitous disdain for the experience across practitioners and users. 

That’s not to say that desktop virtualization could or should go away tomorrow. However, it is clear that organizations and users are hungry for avenues that help them reduce their dependency upon such application delivery experiences. 

In most organizations, 80–90% of the applications being used are web-based external or internal applications. The remaining 10–20% are a combination of command line or thick application needs. Sure, VDI may be valuable for certain situational needs. But if an organization can reduce its dependency — and subsequent cost — of VDI by 80% or more, it seems foolish not to consider. 

Most importantly, to allow such a small footprint of resources to negatively impact the user experience for everyone needing application access is simply unnecessary. In the eyes of most practitioners who live with this frustration every day, a transformational change is needed.

The enterprise browser: a modern way to reduce VDI

The inherent challenges with desktop virtualization stem from the very thing that made it appealing in the first place: a safe way to give audiences access to critical applications they need. At the time, there were IT and security benefits to moving the computing layer to the cloud or on-premise servers. But end users paid the cost with unavoidable latency and performance penalties. The solution to this dilemma is to shift as much compute back to the endpoint as possible, and restore a natural end user experience, all while delivering applications safely to the appropriate audiences. Today, we have an alternative to desktop virtualization that does just that. Enterprise Browsers present a more user-friendly, lightweight option while still meeting the needs of most enterprises. 

  • Secure web access: If the primary requirement is to provide employees with a secure and controlled environment for accessing web-based applications and resources, an enterprise browser is a fitting choice.
  • Endpoint security enhancement: Organizations looking to enhance endpoint security by protecting users, applications, and devices from potential threats can benefit from an enterprise browser.
  • BYOD policies: In environments where employees use personal devices for work, an enterprise browser can offer a secure browsing experience without managing the entire device, ensuring privacy for the user and protection for the organization’s key applications and data
  • Compliance requirements: Industries with strict regulatory requirements, such as finance and healthcare, can deploy enterprise browsers to secure application access and comply with industry regulations. The audit perspective from the physical position of the browser is exceptionally rich and highly unique.
  • Resource-constrained environments: In situations where deploying virtual desktops might be resource-intensive, using an enterprise browser on existing devices can be a more practical solution.
  • Single client experience: In situations where VDI may still be required for a specific application need, the Enterprise Browser can be the singular client for web application access and for rendering VDI needs over HTML5 within the browser. Given that all major VDI players support this today, it can be your single natural interface to all applications.

The right choice for you

Ultimately, the right solution is the one that allows you and your IT team to work smarter, not harder. Whether you want to empower a third-party business process outsourcer to function as your call center, significantly simplify your contractor onboarding process, or enable a fully secure BYOD program, the Enterprise Browser can help you reduce your dependency on VDI while fully balancing security and productivity with a vastly better user experience.

Read the recent research from Gartner®️ that predicts: 

“By 2030, enterprise browsers will be the core platform for delivering workforce productivity and security software on managed and unmanaged devices for a seamless hybrid work experience.”

➔ Read the full report

Gartner, Emerging Tech: Security — The Future of Enterprise Browsers, Dan Ayoub, Evgeny Mirolyubov, Max Taggett, Dave Messett, 14 April 2023 

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Bradon Rogers
Head of Presales, Customer Success and Product Marketing

Bradon Rogers leads Island’s customer relationships as Head of Presales, Customer Success and Product Marketing. With over 20 years’ experience in the cyber security industry, Bradon previously served as head of global sales engineering at Mimecast, senior vice president of sales engineering and product marketing ad D2IQ, and senior vice president at Symantec, where he led worldwide sales engineering and product marketing following its acquisition of Blue Coat where he held a similar role. Bradon has also held similar executive and technical leadership roles at leading global cyber security companies like McAfee, Secure Computing and CipherTrust.

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