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Lowering Cost of VDI with HCI

September 16, 2019 By BlueAlly

How HCI Helps You to Lower Your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual desktops are rapidly becoming the solution of choice for companies seeking to simplify and streamline end-user computing. Using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), your company can consolidate distributed desktop environments in a centralized data center, which end-users throughout your organization can securely access from anywhere in the world, on any type of device.

But despite its benefits, your company may find it hard to achieve the cost-effective distribution of workloads that VDI promises. It’s easy for the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your VDI system to get out of control. Also, latency on your VDI platform can slow down virtual desktop performance, reducing employee productivity and having a negative impact on your ROI as well as the broad adoption of VDI.

In this article, we’ll look at how using hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to host virtual desktops can help you to lower the TCO of your VDI system and increase your ROI by giving your virtual desktop users a faster, more productive experience.

Reducing Hardware Costs

VDI is often hosted on traditional three-tier infrastructure that includes servers, networked storage and storage networking. This architecture can be expensive to deploy and complex to manage. Your company must make a large capital investment in servers and storage units for the initial VDI deployment, and further investments each time you scale your infrastructure to accommodate user growth. It’s estimated that hardware costs make up 40-50% of the total cost of VDI.

On the other hand, using HCI provides “Hardware Cost Avoidance” savings. First, the software-based HCI architecture runs on industry-standard hardware, which is less expensive than proprietary infrastructure that includes non-standard storage technologies. This saves you money on your initial deployment for VDI, and as you scale your your infrastructure.

You should also look for an HCI solution that utilizes an ultra-low latency NVMe flash storage architecture, which allows the infrastructure to support more virtual desktops per node by eliminating IO bottleneck. Since you can do more with less hardware, you must buy less hardware when building or scaling your infrastructure, which gives you additional cost savings.

Reducing Scaling Costs

Scaling a traditional infrastructure platform for VDI can further increase your hardware costs. It’s not easy to predict how many new virtual desktops users your company will need to add over the next year, and how many servers or storage units you will need to support them. Many companies end up spending more than required by overprovisioning hardware, just to add a handful of users.

The modular, software-based architecture of HCI simplifies scaling, allowing you to manage your VDI system as pods. You can designate a certain number of virtual desktops and nodes per pod (i.e. 500 virtual desktops = 4 nodes = 1 pod). This makes it easy to predict your scaling needs, since you will know how many nodes you need to add each time you scale up to support growth on your VDI system. You only need to buy as many nodes as you need, which helps to keep hardware costs under control.

Reducing Data Center Costs

A traditional infrastructure footprint requires a large amount of data center space, plus enough power and cooling to keep the hardware operational. As your IT footprint grows to support new VDI users, the costs of space, power, and cooling will increase as well.

Again, utilizing an HCI solution that supports high-density deployments allows you to support more virtual desktops per node using less hardware. This decreases the size of your data center footprint, and reduces the amounts of power and cooling you need, which lowers your data center costs.

Reducing Labor Costs

The special maintenance needs of enterprise hardware require you to either outsource this task or provide specialized training to your current IT staff. Either of these will drive up your maintenance costs. Also, as you scale your IT footprint, the maintenance costs for traditional hardware will continue to increase.

Since HCI runs on industry-standard hardware, your IT staff can easily manage your infrastructure. You don’t need to outsource to a specialized staff or invest in additional training and skills. HCI requires about half the implementation and day-to-day management of traditional infrastructure. Also, the resilience of the HCI platform increases VDI availability, which provides additional cost savings by minimizing system downtime and reducing help desk requests.

Increased ROI Through Higher Productivity

Traditional infrastructure is not designed to handle the high-density workloads of VDI. Excessive IO demands on the shared storage used by virtual machines can result in unacceptably high latency and degraded user experience for your VDI users. This reduces the productivity of your workers and lowers your ROI. Latency can also indirectly increase hardware costs, since you may need to buy excessive hardware to mitigate bottlenecks on your traditional architecture and provide faster IO processing for VDI end users.

HCI provides a more robust platform for VDI hosting. The modular distributed architecture eliminates the bottlenecks of the traditional three-tier infrastructure, which helps to reduce latency and ensure superior end-user performance. In turn, this increases productivity and provides a better ROI for your VDI system.


A recent survey conducted by IT analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group found that companies that employed a high-quality HCI architecture to support VDI found that they achieved an average savings of +$1 million over traditional infrastructure. In particular, the surveyed companies achieved almost 50% savings in both hardware costs and data center costs. An HCI architecture provides the best solution for keeping your VDI costs under control and reaching a positive ROI.