Desktop virtualization (DV) is the ability to provision in a cloud-like environment 'any or all' components tied in with the traditional desktop estate. This includes provisioning services on the fly, elasticity, scalability, with elements of utility pricing. DV can be dedicated to one customer or deployed as a multi-tenant solution.
Despite the level of comfort many IT managers have with server virtualization and increasingly with storage virtualization, the level of adoption for desktop virtualization is relatively low. Only around 10% of IT managers report deploying DV in some form. However, DV has a relatively high level of interest and is expected to become one of the fastest growing areas within the cloud services market. We look at its five key business drivers below:
1. cost savings
Cost savings are the Holy Grail behind deploying DV. However since like-for-like comparisons in moving from a physical to a virtual environment are difficult, customers need to look at indirect savings to make the business case stronger. This includes accelerating the configuration and deployment of new desktops. With DV, manual processes and desk side support can be completely eliminated with a defined set of images deployed from the data center to the desktop allowing IT managers to add a user from a service catalogue, specify an image and push out to the user in minutes. In addition, patching, updating and upgrading services is easier and quicker, which reduces management costs.
2. better end point security
DV also has a number of security benefits such as the ability to set policy, understand application estate, turn on and off services on laptops and desktops remotely. For example, some companies have deployed DV to enable the containerization of applications and the OS. If business critical applications are not checked in and certified in an amount of time set by policy, they can be disabled centrally. These types of solutions tend to be favored by customers with a lot of field workers storing sensitive data on local devices.
3. matching employee needs
Rather than issuing standard laptops and devices for all users, desktop virtualization allows enterprises to build secure environments around individual roles within a company. On the low end are kiosk type solutions that have a point of sale function for a retail clerk or a self-service kiosk for flight check-in. In the middle tier would be solutions for employees like call center agents that require a limited set of features and a basic device. At the next level are traditional 'office workers' that require a traditional desktop for a richer experience. Finally the mobile worker will require specific applications deployed to the device reliably, high-availability access to e-mail, endpoint management, security and offline access.
4. workplace transformation
DV is also used to support new ways of working in the enterprise. A number of companies have used DV as a means of introducing new company policies where employees are allocated a fixed amount to buy their own laptops and devices that can then be secured for the work environment. DV is also being used more to support the rise of employees working from home or remote offshore locations.
5. opportunities with green IT
Even in the current economic climate, green IT has been cited as a reason to deploy virtual desktop services. Some customers, particularly in the government sector look at VDI as a means of lowering emissions as well as reducing energy costs. Energy remains one of the most costly parts of an IT operation. Other motivations have been to reduce on-site equipment and in improving equipment lifecycle spans. In the case of VDI, thin client devices last a lot longer than traditional desktops, which need to be refreshed every two years.
Sandra O'Boyle is Service Director, Business Network and IT Services at Current Analysis. Read more research from Current Analysis at www.currentanalysis.com