Posted by: Alan Perlman
Citrix, Desktop Virtualization, Microsoft, VDI, VMware
Today is our last VDI Trender post for a little white – I know you’re all heartbroken – so we will do a little recap of what we’ve learned during the past two months and what we might be seeing as we gaze into our virtual crystal ball.
Learning #1: Confusion, Anyone?
For a technology as widely hyped as VDI, the language can be a tad confusing. VDI is a specific type of desktop virtualization, right, but some users and vendors use it as an all-inclusive term that reflects the overall market. In fact, it is not even clear that VDI will emerge as the industry standard, given the costs involved in building the infrastructure and the challenges with mobility/user experience. Then again, VDI does have the support of major vendors and that usually takes a technology solution a long way.
Learning #2: Focus on Benefits
Forget the hype and focus on actual benefits. At one point Gartner predicted that virtual desktops would account for 40 percent of the worldwide professional PC market by 2013. The more interesting way to learn about the market is to look at actual deployments – how companies are using virtual desktops, which users are benefiting, which users are balking, how much it actually costs, what kind of ROI are they actually experiencing. Go to shows, contact colleagues, even look at vendor case studies and then reach out to the people quoted in those case studies. There’s a real story here, but it will take some work to understand which of the many truths about virtual desktops will apply to your situation. Think of it as a virtual Rashomon.
Learning #3: The Future is Now
When you think about the benefits, don’t expect ROI to be the main reason to invest in virtual desktops. Just about all of the research we’ve done shows that IT professionals have been somewhat disappointed in the ROI deliverables. Where they have been most pleased is in the control, reduced complexity, increased security and other benefits that make their lives in IT simpler and easier to manage. The other big thing: Think of this as an investment in the future. The more you learn now about how, where, when and why to deploy desktop virtualization, the more ably and successfully you will be able to roll it out for new users and applications. This is definitely a new wave in the world of client computing, so you want to be able to catch it and ride it at a time that is appropriate to your organization
Learning #4: The Vendors Are Highly Engaged
For VMware, desktop virtualization is the opportunity to create a new paradigm, just as they did with server virtualization. For Microsoft, this is an opportunity to protect their long-standing position and crown jewels. For Citrix, this is a chance to make a major mark on the industry. Often, in a highly competitive environment such as this one – especially when Microsoft is involved – vendors will do unusual things to secure your business. This is particularly true in the early stages of a market, when they can lock you in as a customer for many years. If you have leverage as a customer, our advice is to use it. It doesn’t always happen this way.
Learning #5: Don’t Lock in on Thin Clients
Just because the thin client is a widely promoted solution, don’t think that it will solve any of your challenges in deploying desktop virtualization. Innovations are continuing to be made at the desktop – with more intelligence than ever before at the client level – and these innovations offer real advantages in security, an enhanced user experience and in future-proofing your environment as the winds of technology continue to change and blow from different directions. It’s important not to lock in on one solution and to be open to considering intelligence at the client level for the greatest flexibility in all of your applications.
Learning #6: VDI, Desktop Virtualization – Whatever You Call It – Is Happening
Whatever shape it takes, whatever technology solutions win out, however IT manages to deploy it, desktops will become far more highly virtualized over the next several years. The shift to a more cloud-like computing environment is real, the growth of IT-based-services is real, the path to a new paradigm is real and being blazed. Wherever you are in your deployment, even if you’ve decided VDI is not for you or you need to wait and see about desktop virtualization, it is time now to get smart about this technology and understand what it can and cannot do for your organization. I guarantee you — you will be asked, so you better be prepared with some smart answers.
That’s what we have. So we say so long for now. I’m sure we’ll meet again.