Tech Analysis: VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, promises to reduce the effort and cost of enterprise desktop management, but be careful how you implement it.
is no denying that virtualization is a hot topic in enterprise IT, but when it
comes to adoption rates, not all types of virtualization
created equal. While it would be difficult to think of an enterprise that hasn't
embraced, or at least piloted, server virtualization, the same cannot be said
for desktop virtualization.
ROI for server virtualization is well understood in terms of server
consolidation and better asset utilization, and some of the same benefits can
be had through VDI (Virtual
Desktop Infrastructure), the form of desktop virtualization that most closely
resembles the type
of server virtualization enabled by products such as VMware vSphere and Citrix
a VDI scenario, desktop operating systems and applications run on virtual
machines located on a server, and users access these machines remotely. Users
can run thin clients to access their virtual desktops, or use full-fledged
Windows, Linux or Mac hardware regardless of the operating system
running on the virtual desktop.
This model allows enterprises to separate the operating system and
applications from the hardware, increasing flexibility and mobility, for example by providing a full desktop
experience over RDP (Remote
Desktop Protocol) on a Windows Mobile device.
use of VDI
holds great promise as a
easing the pain many enterprises feel while administering tens of thousands of
physical desktops. You know the
pain I'm talking about. Provisioning physical machines, asset management,
hardware and software configuration management, operating system
and application installation and patching, cleaning up malware,
reimaging, the list goes on and on. Industry analysts estimate that these activities
cost enterprises anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 per desktop per year. Roughly
half of this cost is borne by IT departments and the other half comes in the form of
lost user productivity.
centralizes and standardizes
distributed desktops on servers in the data center. This
has many advantages, such as reducing the cost of physical desktop acquisition
and maintenance. Typical
business applications, such as
some office productivity applications,
e-mail and Web browsers, will run
just as well in VMs as they would on physical desktops. Consider using thin clients
in public places and for shared workstations, for example in kiosks and call
excellent business continuity,
are available any time
from anywhere. Employees can easily be moved to a remote location or work from
home. Standardizing desktop configurations across different platforms and
devices minimizes downtime during periods of potential service interruption.
business agility is another advantage of VDI. Flexibility is the name of the
game for businesses that want to survive this recession. The ability to
provision or relocate a desktop with a single mouse click opens new
opportunities for businesses. Users can buy whatever
hardware they want and still have access to the applications they need.
the desktop environment is abstracted from the physical devices on users'
desks, management and updates become much less resource-intensive. Estimates indicate
that VDI can reduce desktop TCO
by anywhere from 15
percent to 35
Who wouldn't want to trim that much off the desktop support budget?
Matthew D. Sarrel, CISSP, is a network security,product development, and technical marketingconsultant based in New York City. He is also a gamereviewer and technical writer. To read his opinions on games please browse http://games.mattsarrel.com and for more general information on Matt, please see http://www.mattsarrel.com.