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Economic Insight: On-Premises versus the Public Cloud for VDI – Cost Comparison

Should you run VDI in the public cloud? The public cloud is appealing alternative for many applications in the data center, but is the cloud right for VDI?

This TCO report from Evaluator Group compares AWS WorkSpaces with a VxBlock Converged Infrastructure solution from Dell EMC. It looks at two user profiles, a knowledge worker and power worker, in a typical enterprise environment – from 2500 desktops to 50,000 desktops. The results show that the cloud isn’t really cost effective, especially as the environment grows, with  AWS WorkSpaces costing as much as 45% more than an on-premises VDI infrastructure from Dell EMC.


The cloud was, at one point, seen as the inevitable successor to “traditional” IT infrastructure. With Gmail, Dropbox and, cloud-based applications and services have certainly become mainstream. But as companies have started adopting public clouds, their concept of the cloud has evolved. Instead of “cloud-only”, “hybrid cloud” has emerged as the model more companies are embracing. In general, enterprises are finding that the public cloud is okay for some data sets and some applications but that on-premises infrastructure is better for others.

The overall appeal of the public cloud and whether it is right for a specific organization depends on several factors. These include the availability of IT personnel and expertise, their concerns about control, data governance and security, a company’s preference for OPEX or CAPEX financing, and of course, cost. In fact, in a 2018 Evaluator Group study, “Hybrid Cloud Storage for the Enterprise”, security and cost were the two top concerns of respondents.

Like other applications running in the data center, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is also available as a service from public cloud providers. For enterprises considering the public cloud for this application, cost is certainly an important decision factor. This report will compare the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a VDI solution running on-premises and one running in the public cloud. Specifically, these solutions are Dell EMC VxBlock System 1000 running VDI with VMware Horizon in the data center and WorkSpaces in the AWS cloud.

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September 24, 2019

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