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Desktop virtualisation growth to continue in Asean region

Despite barriers such as cost of implementation and customer preference for mobile technologies, desktop virtualisation will see steady growth in the Asean region

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Before cloud and big data began to dominate the IT headlines, virtualisation was all the buzz in the enterprise IT space.

Although cloud, along with big data and internet of things (IoT) technologies, have taken everyone’s attention, the march of virtualisation has not stopped.

In terms of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), back in 2013 organisations in Southeast Asia were interested but confused about VDI, according to an IDC Asia-Pacific trend report. The report concluded that VDI was a long-term project that must provide good user experience to be successful.

But IT models are changing rapidly, according to William Ngoh, chief product evangelist of business mobility at VMware. “For most technology initiatives, business agility is now a driving force,” he said. “Many enterprises are beginning to view desktop virtualisation as a critical enabling technology.”

Among the Asia-Pacific countries, the IDC report noted the level of virtualisation in South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong was on a par with western countries. Countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand, it said, were 12-18 months behind them, while most Southeast Asian countries were more than two years behind the leading pack.

Some countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region are now picking up pace, said Shahnawas Latiff, senior market analyst for IDC’s Asia-Pacific software research group. Although IDC does not have a specific penetration data for desktop virtualisation in the region, its virtual client computing tracker data has desktop virtualisation as one of the sub-markets.

“Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia seem to be showing growth, although Philippines and Indonesia is from a smaller base,” said Latiff.

The VDI take-up rate will exceed that of countries such as South Korea and Japan. Deployments should be more successful with lower costs
Paul Serrano, Nutanix

For VMware, VDI is still showing growth across Southeast Asia, but not as fast as the likes of Korea, Japan and Australia.

“The reason is the stronger focus on consolidating datacentre infrastructures,” said Ngoh. “Another reason for the slower adoption links to specific infrastructural issues such as connectivity and bandwidth. Due to the larger geographical spread of many of these countries, connectivity is still relatively poor between offices, remote offices and branches. In addition, leased lines, for example, are generally still expensive, and these all inhibit overall growth and adoption.” 

Paul Serrano, chief evangelist of Asia-Pacific and Japan at Nutanix, said the company was seeing expanding deployment of VDI across most of the emerging Asean countries, and these latecomers to the technology might have the advantage of the lessons learned by early adopters, as well as lower costs due to maturity of technology.

“Clearly for Asean, the VDI take-up rate will exceed that of countries such as South Korea and Japan. Deployments should be more successful with lower costs,” he said.

Andy Cocks, chief technology officer (CTO) at Dimension Data, Asia-Pacific, does not think Southeast Asian countries are lagging behind. Rather, he believes they are just very specific about the users.

“We have seen an uptick in the use of virtualisation where the network infrastructure allows reliable connections. We first saw this in mature countries such as Japan and Korea, but now the Southeast Asian network/bandwidth has really caught up, allowing for this type of adoption.”

Top driving factors

Serrano at Nutanix said drivers are the same across the region. “These include cost, security, simplified and centralised control for deployment and management, unified upgrade controls of software, and more.”

“The adoption of vitualisation is driven by business demand for user mobility, data availability, business continuity and network security,” said Ngoh. “The popularity and acceptance of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, rise of user computing and remote working, as well as IT’s desire to reduce the cost and complexity for supporting multiple platforms, fuels the demand for the cross-device mobility VDI provides.”

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According to Serrano, there is evidence of VDI adoption growth, but the initial take-up and larger implementations are more commonly found in the healthcare and manufacturing industries, as well as government and education sectors. 

According to Ngoh, VDI in healthcare is enabling doctors and nurses to easily access patient medical information and data entry. In education, he said it can simplify operations by offering students access to desktops across the campus, enabling greater flexibility and delivering consistent computing experience throughout schools. In financial services, bankers, branch staff, financial advisors, loan agents, developers and remote workers can now have secure and seamless access to data and applications from any device, while ensuring privacy and compliance.

DiData’s Cocks said the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector was also adopting desktop virtualisation: “In the BPO industry, transactional and offshore workers who come and go do not require fully configured PCs that are expensive to manage.”

Barriers to adoption

But it is not all plain sailing. Studies show that seven out of 10 VDI implementations fail.

“The reasons include, but are not limited to, cost overruns, infrastructure complexity, limited knowledge, technical design shortcomings and poor performance,” said Serrano. “It was therefore wise for Asean countries to refrain from anything but testing.”

Then there is internal resistance. “From a user standpoint, the biggest objection to VDI is usually the loss of control,” said Ngoh. “Some users have a sense of ownership over their physical desktops, and they may not like the idea of surrendering their rule to a virtual desktop environment.”

Other inhibitors, according to Ngoh, are cost and preference for mobile technology. “There are initial upfront costs, as desktop virtualisation involves server infrastructure, unlike traditional PC replacements that are a straightforward, one-to-one exchange,” he said. “Another reason is the customer’s preference for mobile, where businesses see mobile as more critical than desktop.”

IDC’s Latiff added that security and vulnerability concerns were the main barriers to adoption, with a lack of internal skills another problem.

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