CIOs who have been reaping the rewards from server virtualization will be dismayed that desktop virtualization has a very different business case. VDI is compelling for niches inside organizations that have a large number of people doing the same task, such as call centers or hospitals. VDI can also be a method to improve security, which is especially useful for government deployments.
For other environments, the key problem for the CIO is how to meet the needs of various types of workers with a proliferation of access methods including mobile devices and tablets. Today, companies need to go through an extensive process of measuring the current environment, testing with a pilot program, adjusting the solution to meet the performance needs of the users, and repeating the process if a deployment is to be successful.
The pace of innovation on end-user devices is far outpacing the ability of VDI software to deliver infrastructure for devices. Current VDI deployments work best for local environments to a thin client, so the promise of providing a desktop image anywhere on any device is more of a vision than a reality.
For the short term; VDI can be deployed in a tactical way to wring out more costs for large scale local implementations of client devices, to provide flexibility to workers within a facility (such as with cube farm call centers and medical or health care workers), or to increase security.
Action Item: CIOs should understand their user communities and the use cases where VDI makes sense. Desktop virtualization should be deployed as a tactical solution today where the benefits of management, flexibility or security can justify the cost. VDI can be considered part of larger strategy of virtualization as long as the financial and organizational impacts are examined independently.
Footnotes: Desktop Virtualization Reality Check from the Wikibon Blog