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Top 5 Predictions for 2013 UC with VDI

by:  Geoffrey Murase, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager End User Computing

In 2012, many prognosticators predicted that the end of the world would occur in December 2012 based on the end of the Mayan calendar.  Well, that date has come and gone and we’re still here so let’s venture to forecast what 2013 has in store for us with respect to unified communications (UC) in a virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment.

1. Tablets will become a primary way to communicate by voice

The adoption of tablets within the work environment has surpassed even the most optimistic projections.  Everyday, at meetings, workers pull out their tablets to take notes or access data needed to ensure a productive session.  Softphones available from UC vendors have even made it possible to take the full desktop experience and make it mobile.  However, the user experience on tablets is often different from what is available on a computer.  Using VDI, workers can have the same user experience as from their desktop, only in a virtual environment.  Furthermore, VMware has worked closely with Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, and Mitel to enable real-time voice in a VDI environment.  The same desktop experience including a phone in a VDI environment combined with the portability of a tablet is a win-win for workers and IT managers alike.  2013 will be the year that this technology will begin to take off.  This idea has been tossed around on sites such as GigaOM.

2. Video communication in business will hit the mainstream

Today’s economy has forced businesses of all sizes to look at ways to save money.  One way that businesses are reducing costs is by limiting travel for meetings and using conference calls instead.  However, this takes away the personal interaction of meeting people face to face.  After several years of hype, 2013 is expected to be the year when video communication in business hits the mainstream.  Factors contributing to increased adoption of video in the enterprise include video interoperability between companies becoming mainstream, software video conferencing overtaking dedicated video conferencing rooms, and increased use of the SVC codec extension of H.264 for increased quality over low bandwidth connections.  In fact, Cisco forecasts that “Increased adoption of advanced video communications in the enterprise segment will cause business IP traffic to grow by a factor of 3 between 2011 and 2016.”  But what about workers who have desktops in a VDI environment?  How can they communicate by video?  Don’t worry, VMware has worked with Mitel and Vidyo to enable real-time video in a VDI environment.

3. Virtualized contact centers takeoff

Outsourcing or offshoring non-core functions such as contact centers has been a popular way for businesses to reduce costs.  However, concerns about security, uptime, and support have been top of mind for businesses who venture to do so. VMware has recognized this trend and created a specific reference architecture to address the issues that IT managers face when outsourcing.  VMware’s Business Process Desktop (BPD) reference architecture ensures a secure, scalable, easy to manage solution including support for real-time UC.  This solution is ideal for offshore contact centers that use soft phones as a primary way of speaking with customers.  By addressing the concerns of IT managers and incorporating real-time voice, fully virtualized contact centers are expected to be the preferred way of outsourcing in 2013. 

4. The need for desktop and communications availability will come to the forefront

Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast of the United States, resulting in power outages and people being stranded at home.  A CNN/Money article cites estimates from Moody’s Analytics that lost business activity from Superstorm Sandy is estimated at close to $20 Billion.  Much of that loss is probably due to workplaces being damaged, workers being unable to go to work, and lack of ability to communicate with one another.  If only these workers had virtual desktops, (and assuming that their Internet connection was up), they could have possibly remained productive with access to their data and applications as well as the ability to communicate using softphones.  Other outages such as the huge blackouts in India in July 2012 that affected 620 Million people remind us of the need for high availability and redundant systems.  With increased globalization and dependence on communications, 2013 may bring an event that brings the need for highly available solutions to the forefront of businesses.  A virtualized desktop environment is ideal to ensure uptime in the event of a natural disaster or outage.

5. Device proliferation will continue unabated

The past year has brought us the introduction of the iPad Mini, Microsoft Surface, Google Nexus, and the list goes on and on.  Who knows what the next device will look like.  As the number of platforms continues to grow, IT managers must continually keep track of the different UC clients that workers put on their devices.  For businesses that use a VDI environment, however, the problem is much easier to address.  VMware has created the Mobile Secure Desktop (MSD) solution reference architecture to solve the pain points of IT in managing device proliferation.  The MSD solution provides a secure, easy to manage VDI environment that ensures that workers have a familiar user interface and are able to be productive while IT managers can provide the support that workers need.

If 2012 serves as a gauge of activity, 2013 promises to bring even more change to the business environment with respect to UC and VDI.  VMware has a pulse on what’s going on within businesses and actively works toward addressing emerging trends.  Best wishes for a great 2013!