Data Location with VDI in 2024

By Jonathon Wiggins, Structured Sr. Systems Engineer —

My job has always been to give end-users access to their data through published applications or desktops. Before the cloud, when all applications and data were in an on-premises data center, things operated smoothly without much complexity. Today, it’s no secret that more companies – like Microsoft and Citrix – have shifted their service delivery focus from on-prem to the cloud. This shift has significant consequences for IT personnel managing these virtual environments.

Despite the cloud’s enormous benefits regarding containment, scalability, and redundancy, one key factor that is easy to miss when moving workstations to the cloud is data location. One of the tenets of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and published applications for me has always been: Virtual workstations and applications need to be close to wherever the data is.

It’s all about (data) location, location, location!

Virtual workstations and applications must be as close as possible to the data for optimal performance and efficiency.

Think for a minute about this: When workstations reside in the cloud while the data is on-premises or in a separate data center, the complexities of end-users accessing data from their virtual desktop only increase. In this instance, data needs to go across the wire to and from the virtual desktop. This causes slowness in the desktop, which makes end-users unhappy.

Meanwhile, we all know some legacy applications will always require on-premises databases, either for regulatory compliance or a simple lack of DevOps capacity.

While IT must work within this reality, end-users don’t care where their data is. They want it quickly so that they can work. Moving a workstation to the cloud when 90% of its data resides on-premises will solve management issues with the virtual workstations – just not the end-user’s data access.

How to Make It Better

IT professionals managing virtual and on-premises infrastructure need to find the tipping point for their particular company.  One good metric I measure is whether data is accessed daily by end-users more than 50 percent of the time.

As time goes by, of course, SaaS applications and cloud-hosted data will help improve performance for end users when their workstations reside in the cloud. In the meantime, on-premises data centers and legacy apps will still exist. We must accommodate them and prepare our organizations as best we can to do the same.

Interested in improving your ability to balance the realities of data location in the cloud with the work requirements of end-users? Contact your Structured account manager today or email

About the Author

Jonathon Wiggins has more than 23 years of experience using Citrix Virtual Applications and Desktops (formally known as XenApp and XenDesktop) in large, enterprise environments. He has been responsible for the architecture and implementation of mission-critical enterprise infrastructure, management of highly skilled engineers, presentation of technical and corporate materials at industry seminars, and budgetary management for departments and branches. He currently is a Citrix Certified Expert in Virtualization and is Microsoft Certified in Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty.