Server virtualization has been a runaway success with obvious reductions in OPEX and CAPEX. Storage virtualization has led to much simpler unified storage products with clear OPEX benefits. Desktop virtualization aka VDI offers similar benefits – at least to many shops.
Break the Desktop Upgrade and Replacement Cycle
Because VDI can use lightweight endpoints, customers can re-purpose or completely replace desktops with thin clients running, for example, Linux with practically no applications running or living on the desktop. The painful desktop replacement cycle can be replaced via a less costly asset management plan.
Another benefit is avoiding hardware upgrades for new operating systems, e.g., Windows Vista. Prior to VDI, more often then not it would be necessary to upgrade hardware, memory, disk space, etc. With VDI, the operating system images can be installed on a centralized server with plenty of resources and accessed via a thin client.
Stop Managing Endpoints
In a typical corporate infrastructure, desktops are managed using remote software technology. Managing hundreds or thousands of desktops in this way is quite difficult and problematic. Using VDI allows central management of all the virtual desktops and better control what is being installed and used on those desktops. Less time can be spent on endpoints -- actual physical PCs -- because they no longer need to be managed as tightly. These endpoints are only needed to provide a remote desktop connection to the virtual desktop.
In addition, deployment of virtual desktops is lightning fast as opposed to using system imaging technology. With virtual desktops, deployment of new images to geographically dispersed locations can be managed from one data center using data center-class technologies.
Rationalize the Application Portfolio
VDI is an opportunity to clean up the application portfolio and identify low use applications that don’t need to be widely distributed across the enterprise. VDI deployment also provides an opportunity to reduce rogue software licensing and expensive volume-based software that is consuming lots of expensive licensing and maintenance dollars.
No More Desktop Backup
Though many organizations forego desktop backup or use network shares, they still must often re-image the desktop when it fails – a time-consuming and disruptive process. With VDI, data center-class backup technology can be applied to virtual desktop images thereby providing a high quality backup of both system and data files. Moreover, With VDI and snapshot point-in-time copies, desktops can be rolled back to different states in time. This is a great feature, and provides great flexibility to end users.
A thin client VDI session can use less electricity than a desktop computer. Using VDI is a way to reduce carbon footprints and save money in power costs. What’s more, virtual desktops can be powered off when not needed.
Caveat - The Pendulum Always Swings
Since the dawn of IT, advances in technology have compelled users to either deploy it centrally or distributed; thin client or fat client or no server or distributed servers, etc. Over time, we have seen the dominant orientation swing back and forth from consolidated to distributed and back.
This pendulum never stops, and with the IT world abuzz about moving totally away from desktops to mobile devices and mobile applications it is clear that these new endpoints are getting heavier/fatter by the day. And the challenges of managing them grow proportionately. VDI offers clear savings for selected environments, but those environments will change rapidly.
Action Item: Consider VDI for the savings it can bring today. Recognize that these savings may be one time only.