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When Nutanix paid $165m for Frame last year, the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) specialist didn’t have an office in Australia – but it did have Australian customers who were using its software.
During a whistlestop visit to Australia to attend Nutanix’s Next On Tour conference, Nikola Bozinovic, the founder of Frame and now vice-president of Nutanix, declined to name or quantify local users, but said universities and software companies had been among the early adopters locally.
The potential fly in the ointment for Frame’s future success in Australia is the issue of bandwidth, which is critical for a seamless VDI or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offering. Without fast reliable connectivity, VDI and DaaS fall over as a concept.
“There is a little bit of sentiment that bandwidth-wise, it’s not as good as was promised,” said Bozinovic.
“Australia is not the best in bandwidth, but it is far from the worst. The national broadband network over promised and under delivered,” he added, acknowledging that bandwidth was a particular challenge for rural and regional businesses.
According to the Speedtest Global Index, Australia ranked 5th in the world for mobile internet access in February 2019. Its ranking plunged to 59th when it came to fixed broadband access which most enterprises would use to support VDI.
The drivers to use VDI are pretty much the same whatever the location. Bozinovic said the initial attraction was economy as VDI makes it cheaper to access centralised content. “But I think that has evolved,” he said.
“The use cases are now primarily around security and to allow bring your own device. People travel and they want access to a centralised solution.”
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Business agility and flexibility with no compromise of security are key characteristics of a VDI approach.
At the same time, VDI allows enterprise to account for “data gravity”, which is a growing issue for organisations managing large information collections. Centralising processing and keeping it close to corporate data stores helps rein in latency.
There are also cost advantages – especially for organisations which have highly elastic workloads. VDI allows enterprises which may hire seasonal workers, for example, to provide them with secure access to central systems through their own device, a thin client, or an ageing machine, rather than having to provide a state-of-the-art PC for every worker.
Asked whether he saw the rise of software as a service (SaaS) as any threat to the VDI model, Bozinovic said there were very few organisations that ran entirely on SaaS. Instead, most use a mix of cloud-based and legacy solutions. “A lot of customers are using SaaS delivered by VDI,” he said.
Bozinovic also believes that although VDI has traditionally been the province of large enterprise customers, it is now being adopted more widely. “In the past, it has been so complex that it hasn’t been for the faint of heart. But when you make it easy, it can work for companies with 50 or 100 people,” he concluded.