What is a VDI Workspace?

Virtual application delivery (VAD)—and specifically Cameyo’s VAD platform—has been cited as a wholesale replacement for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions like Citrix because of how it provides a seamless application experience for users on any device. And without the perennial downsides of VDI.

VDI was one of the earliest ways for modern organizations to enable their users to stay productive while offsite. It’s been around for several decades, which is why VDI’s approach to virtualization is based on the traditional workstation computing model — back when everyone used desktop PCs. Through the use of virtual machines (VMs), VDI tries to replicate that classic operating system-style desktop environment. From a technical standpoint, your standard VDI environment is built on a lot of hardware and software like data centers, thin clients, load balancers, Windows servers, authentication mechanisms and so on.

Once mobile devices and cloud-based computing technologies started to mature, everyone from IT leaders to ordinary users started reframing things in terms of workspaces. VDI followed suit. Its model shifted slightly to desktop as a service (DaaS), which essentially took VDI’s on-premises infrastructure and swapped all or part of it for cloud infrastructure. But DaaS isn’t a huge departure from classic VDI solutions. Although it adopts SaaS-style pricing, DaaS is still very much focused on replicating the Windows-centric user experience on endpoint devices.

If DaaS is just cloud-based VDI, what’s a VDI workspace?

A VDI workspace is, in a nutshell, the environment users have to log into in order to gain remote access to their apps. The term itself doesn’t really distinguish whether that workspace is provided through classic on-premises VDI or DaaS managed services.

However, what nearly all VDI workspaces have in common is that they stick to the desktop-first paradigm that is the hallmark of VDI solutions like Citrix and VMware. They force the end user to log into a Windows OS “workspace” just to access their apps. It’s effectively the 20th-century workstation concept with some 21st-century dressing.

The result is a user experience that’s completely at odds with today’s more modern, fluid technology landscape. VDI workspaces insist that the growing numbers of Mac, Linux or Chromebook users have to go through a separate Microsoft Windows environment in order to work with their apps. That separation just isn’t conducive to most contemporary workflows. It creates barriers to remote and hybrid work by trying to make user devices fit the outdated mold of desktop workstations.

The digital employee experience (DEX): Seamlessness, not segregation

In recent years, and especially since the workplace upheavals of 2020–2021, IT thought leaders have begun placing increased emphasis on the digital employee experience (DEX). In fact, DEX has become so important that Gartner estimates that half of IT organizations will have a DEX strategy and tools in place by 2025.

At its most basic, DEX is a way for organizations to assess how well their technologies are empowering their users. To determine where your organization’s DEX strategy currently stands, it helps to start asking questions like these:

  • Are our technologies generic and one-size-fits-all? Or do they cater to different workflows and workloads?
  • How can we truly optimize our technologies for different use cases?
  • Do our end users have access to their essential productivity tools anywhere and on demand?
  • Are we still thinking exclusively in terms of desktops and laptops? Or are we considering all mobile devices?
  • Can we achieve an unparalleled user experience alongside cost-effectiveness and zero trust security?

There are plenty of DEX resources out there, but it might be helpful to know that many of the leading articles on DEX recommend “going beyond portals” (a legacy of the workstation mindset) to make it easier for users to engage with their colleagues and their productivity tools. That means phasing out practices like VDI workspaces that channel users through what is essentially a segregated, self-contained Windows environment.

Those at the forefront of DEX and digital transformation are instead advocating for seamless digital workspaces — that is, workspaces that aren’t bound to a specific operating system, user device or workflow. Which makes Virtual App Delivery a key enabler of the secure digital workspace.

Cameyo boosts DEX (and productivity!) through flexibility and security 

As the only virtualization solution that doesn’t force users into a Windows workspace, Cameyo’s VAD platform provides the seamlessness and flexibility that enhance an organization’s DEX right out of the gate. Cameyo transcends VDI’s outmoded workstation models by getting apps, not operating systems, into users’ hands on any device, regardless of OS.

Cameyo also streamlines DevOps processes by enabling IT professionals to deliver all the apps their people need directly to their devices as progressive web apps (PWAs). No software redevelopment is necessary as part of this, and users don’t have to change their behavior at all. With Cameyo, they simply use their Windows, Linux, SaaS, and internal web apps from any device—including Macs, Chromebooks and mobile devices (e.g., iPhone, Android tablet)—within that device’s native environment. It’s completely transparent to them, so they can work as they’ve always worked.

On top of that, Cameyo’s VAD is an integral part of Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA). So organizations can implement security best practices while also boosting the DEX for end users.

You wouldn’t adopt a VDI solution without testing it first, and we wouldn’t expect you to adopt a VAD solution without the same due diligence. Sign up now for your free trial of Cameyo to see how quickly you can start publishing and delivering your business-critical apps to end users. If you’d rather have one our engineers take you through things in a bit more detail, don’t hesitate to schedule a demo instead.