Desktop virtualization is not the slam dunk that server virtualization is in terms of cost savings.
In a recent article, I talked to experts about how the cost of desktop PCs was replaced by even larger costs: new servers, networking components, storage, new talent and so on needed to support a desktop virtualization infrastructure.
What I didn’t talk about as much was why people are moving ahead with desktop virtualization. Windows 7, for one, is a big motivator since so many companies skipped Vista and support for XP is coming to an end. Instead of buying new PCs with bigger memory and faster processors to support a move from XP desktops to Windows 7 desktops, people are taking a serious look at desktop virtualization.
“In the last 90 days, the interest in desktop virtualization went from a [rating of] 2 to a 20,” because people want to move to Windows 7 at a price point they can afford and eliminate deployment and management headaches tied to traditional PC rollouts, said Kevin Vogl, vice president of virtualization with systems integrator Champion Solutions Group in Boca Raton, Fla.
He estimates that desktop management tasks are simplified by 80% when you consolidate desktops under the virtualization model.
And desktop virtualization can finally break the lock-step mode between a hardware refresh and OS upgrade since virtualization separates the software and hardware layers. This gives IT the ability to stream a desktop image from data center servers to an endpoint of choice.
Another benefit? Desktop virtualization can extend the life of the endpoint. Mark Bowker, analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., estimates that a virtual desktop can last up to 10 years, compared with desktop PC swaps that usually happen every three to five years. All the computing power resides on the server after all, not a thin client, for example.