April 22, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Which Public Cloud Is Best For Your Cloud PCs?

Investor, mentor & board director for market- and thought-leading CEOs & technology companies, including Workspot

The answer is, “It all depends.”

Most enterprises are considering (if not actively) deploying Cloud PCs to support modern work-from-anywhere strategies and for the replacement of complex on-premises virtual desktop systems. It’s important for IT leaders to understand that, when it comes to Cloud PCs, all clouds are not created equal. Knowing this is critical when selecting the right Cloud PC utility service.

If there was ever an opportunity for fine-tuning the end-user computing price and performance, that time is now. But you’ll need to do a little homework.

What Are Cloud PCs?

A Cloud PC is very simply a Windows or Linux personal computer containing all your business and productivity tools, streamed from the cloud. End users — employees, gig workers and consultants — can access Cloud PCs using a corporate-issued device, their personal devices, a thin client or any modern browser. Cloud PCs use the storage and networking of hyper-scale cloud vendors to deliver a secure, available and high-performing computing experience. 

Virtual desktops first appeared in the 1990s as on-premises technologies. These systems have been a “DIY” project, requiring a complex stack of software, servers, storage and networking infrastructure designed, built and operated by IT teams.

Having worked for many years in this space, I found that customer success was highly dependent on knowing the science, learning the nuances and adding a little intellectual magic. Frankly, even today, IT organizations continue to struggle to architect virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with the scalability, economy and performance needed. 

Instead, Cloud PCs are virtual desktops that run in the cloud by streaming as a software as a service (SaaS). Unlike legacy VDI systems, Cloud PCs allow IT teams to eliminate complex architectural designs, on-premises hardware and software and constant monitoring of user experience. And, because Cloud PC utilities are global SaaS offerings, effortlessly scaling up and down with business needs, they enable unprecedented business agility. This offers a new level of simplicity and speed for embracing hybrid work and business continuity. 

Public Clouds Thrive On Standardization, But Your Cloud PC Requirements Vary Widely

Public clouds rely on standardization of underlying computing, networking, storage and operational software technologies in order to offer a wide range of “as-a-service” infrastructure. This is driving the dramatic acceleration of digital transformation in cloud-first enterprises. 

But public clouds are not all created equal, especially in the computing area where the differences across hyper-scalers have significant impacts on the cost and capabilities of Cloud PCs. Even across the same hyper-scale cloud vendor, services can vary by region.

Just as end users have a range of computing requirements, your Cloud PC strategy should provide the flexibility to optimally support your various end users, from those in the front office to developers to engineers and designers to contractors. As you examine your cloud strategy, it’s critical to understand the consequences of these cloud infrastructure differences.

Depending on your use case, one cloud may make more price and performance sense than another. For example, the Cloud PC for call center representatives is radically different from a design engineer. The Cloud PC for a contract developer will be very different from a front office employee.

Since most enterprises have a wide range of Cloud PC use cases, how do you decide which public cloud is best? The answer is, “You don’t and shouldn’t.”

The best decision is to choose a Cloud PC solution that is “multi-cloud,” on which the Cloud PC platform can utilize multiple public clouds. This way you can quickly and easily match the public cloud that is optimal for each of your use cases, while also avoiding vendor lock-in. 

Public Clouds Are Elastic, But All Elasticity Is Not Built The Same

Whereas there’s not much that can be done to optimize the use of on-premises servers (where peak provisioning is common), public cloud infrastructure elasticity means that organizations can now have on-demand Cloud PC services and pay for only what is actually used. Having flexibility is important because Cloud PCs are a highly dynamic workload:

• Most end users work 40 hours per week, leaving Cloud PCs idle for the remaining 128 hours in the week. 

• In most organizations, peak Cloud PC use only happens for a few hours per day. 

• Even during peak usage, Cloud PCs may only be used at 20%-40% capacity across all users on a sustained basis.

Unlike corporate data centers, all public clouds offer elasticity. IT can spin capacity up and down in any region of the world on demand. However, there are some significant differences in how elasticity is implemented across different public clouds:

• No public cloud has infinite capacity. Capacity for your specific Cloud PC workload can be constrained across regions for different clouds. 

• Spinning up new capacity may take seconds or many minutes depending on the type of Cloud PC being provisioned, which public cloud is selected and in which region the Cloud PC will be deployed. 

Now that you have this massive opportunity for optimization and, therefore, end user computing costs, why would you continue to pay for resources when people are not using applications at night or over the weekends? Why would you continue to pay for perpetual peak resource use when that peak might actually only last four hours each day?

In order to take advantage of the different elasticity profiles of different clouds, you need to choose a Cloud PC solution that is optimized to take advantage of the different elasticity models in each public cloud.

Choose A Future-Proof Cloud PC Solution

Multi-cloud Cloud PC solutions enable organizations to select the best public cloud for their use cases, based on price and performance considerations. In light of the significant architectural and elasticity differences between the public clouds, do your homework and choose a cloud-native solution that can take advantage of the best features and pricing of each public cloud. 

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