Even nowadays, when everything is going to the cloud, virtualization remains important for IT functions. The latest statistics on virtualization suggest that 92% of organisations are using server virtualization, and only 29% have no IT virtualization initiative at all.
However, when it comes to employees working remotely and accessing applications online, more and more employees are enjoying the benefits of using cloud applications directly rather than having to log in to a virtual desktop.
In reality, most employees rely on a mixture of cloud-based applications and tools that are not cloud-based for their everyday work. This does create an issue for employees who are working remotely, as it’s inconvenient to continually switch between a virtual desktop and a cloud application. Having to access applications in different ways to get work done is less than ideal, and can be frustrating and inefficient. As hybrid working and remote access step up, this is likely to be an increasingly prominent obstacle.
In this article, we’re going to explore virtualization and address why choosing application virtualization – where you can provide virtual access to some of the non-cloud-based apps that people need through a single, focused digital workspace – can prove to be a great option.
What is virtualization?
In a previous article about virtualization technology, we defined it as “software to simulate an environment or another technological resource”, which means “multiple operating systems and applications can run on a single server, and people can use it remotely without having to actually install it on their device”.
We also set out the following handy terms:
- Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) Solutions: a solution that hosts multiple desktop environments, e.g. Citrix
- Desktop as a Service (DaaS): a VDI solution that is cloud-based; hosted on a platform like Azure
- Desktop Virtualization: allows users to access the desktop without needing to install the relevant programs and applications
- Application Virtualization: when a service provider supplies a framework that means users can use the software without having to download it.
In this post, we’re focusing on “application virtualization”, and the options digital workspace and IT teams have when using it in conjunction with their digital workspace to deliver a great digital employee experience.
What are the overall benefits of virtualization?
There are a number of obvious benefits of virtualization for IT teams. These include:
- The ability to run multiple operating systems and apps on a single piece of hardware
- A significant reduction in the physical resources you need to organise your digital workplace
- The ability to easily provide remote access to the desktop, supporting the hybrid workplace
- Better levels of uptime
- Faster more efficient performance
- Reduced costs.
But as we’ve seen, there can be a downside, with the potential for an unstable and fragmented digital employee experience caused when logging into a VDI, and even more so when there is a hybrid of cloud and VDI tools to access. Accessing cloud solutions and a virtual desktop means employees may need to use multiple passwords and constantly switch between windows and tabs. When we have spoken to clients, many have reservations about using virtual desktops.
Application virtualization vs desktop virtualization
Most IT functions focus on desktop virtualization, but there is an alternative approach which leverages application virtualization. Here, instead of employees accessing everything through a less-than-ideal virtual desktop, they can avoid that altogether and utilise a cloud-based digital workspace that brings cloud-based apps together with non-cloud ones through virtualization at the application level.
This is effectively a hybrid approach that can bring together cloud, local and hosted apps and content into one singular place and is designed around the way people work, effectively uniting the cloud and virtualization software. Using a digital workspace product like Workspace 365 to do this means you can craft an excellent, personalized digital employee experience focused on the way your employees want to work, rather than dictated by where their apps are located.
Six reasons to use application virtualization
There are a number of reasons why you may want to use application virtualization to deliver a digital workspace that employees actually want to use.
1. When your legacy solution is not available in the browser
The number of legacy systems still in use by employees within organisations is eyebrow-raising. Even though most organisations are transitioning to the cloud, there are often some stubborn applications that can prove very difficult to replace. In most complex organisations, there is usually at least one custom-built solution that is still relied upon and may be way beyond life. Here, the user experience may be outdated and will not be available in the browser. If this is the case, using application virtualization can provide a better employee experience, allowing anytime and anywhere access through the browser with a convenient digital workspace that brings multiple applications and sources together.
2. When your operating system doesn’t support an application
It’s also possible that your operating system does not support a particular application and prevents some of your employees from using it, perhaps because of your infrastructure and set-up or because of the application itself. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, as application virtualization offers an opportunity to bypass the constraints of your operating system in order to allow all employees to access an application through a modern, browser-based workspace.
3. When the cloud-based version doesn’t include the features you need
Some more mature applications may have more feature-rich on-premises versions than the cloud offerings that are still evolving. While the cloud product plays catch-up, it might be that you still want your employees to access the older application because they need all its features, but you want them to experience the app in the browser. Here, application virtualization provides another option to allow employees to access the on-premises version.
4. When you’re managing the transition to the cloud for an app
Rolling out cloud applications can be challenging, and requires considerable change management. In a large, complex organisation, this may involve a phased approach with some employees adopting a tool before others. Application virtualization can be a good approach to ensure a smooth rollout of a tool which is already being used on-premises in one part of a company, but switching to a cloud version in another.
Because you can use application virtualization through a platform like Workspace 365 to present both the cloud and non-cloud version to different groups within the same familiar digital workspace, you can switch from one to another gradually at the pace you want, with minimum disruption and maximum continuity of experience for employees. This makes the transition to using a cloud version of an app much smoother and easier for everybody.
5. When your distributed workforce can’t access the apps they need
Security and compliance requirements may force certain apps to remain on-premises. This causes problems if you have a distributed workforce who require remote access to your tools, but you want to avoid the pitfalls of a virtual desktop. Here, a solution like Workspace 365 can ensure all your apps are available remotely, with your on-premises apps presented via application virtualization together with cloud-based apps.
6. When you’re building a single modern workspace
A common theme of successful digital employee experience is having the “one stop shop” where employees can access everything they need in one convenient and optimized environment. To achieve this, you’ll very likely need to be able to present tools and content from wherever it is stored: local or on-premises, hosted or in the cloud. You may need to leverage application virtualization and a solution like Workspace 365 to make this happen.
Application virtualization and Workspace 365
If you use Workspace 365, you can build your perfect modern workspace through our Clientless RDP solution where remote applications can easily be added, allowing users to access any application within the wider digital workplace, wherever it is. You can also choose to integrate your current virtualisation solution, like Azure Virtual Desktop, Nutanix Frame or Citrix Virtual Apps (Citrix Workspace).
Users don’t have to install any software to access applications and there isn’t the “one size fits all” approach often associated with virtual desktops, as different workspaces can be targeted to different groups with all the various apps they need. The result is an excellent digital workspace experience for employees, and an easier time for your IT function who, as a result, are able to provide a better alternative to a virtual desktop.
Want to see how you can create a digital workspace with all the apps your employees need? Why not organise a free, instant demo?
With Workspace 365, you can ensure that your employees can access all their apps and communication tools in one place. If you’re still not convinced, sign up for a free demo and check it out for yourself!