Will Desktop Virtualization Be Huge?

June 27, 2008

Will Desktop Virtualization Be Huge?

I have been spending a lot of time over the past several months looking at issues around desktop virtualization. While a lot of the focus in the market has been around server based virtualization, I’d put my money behind desktop virtualization. I will even go out on a limb and predict that within the coming year there will a massive explosion in customers implementing desktop virtualization.

Here are the top three reasons that I make this prediction:

1. The cost of supporting PCs for hundreds or perhaps thousands of users is out of control — no upside ROI for a company.

2. In many situations a full PC is overkill. Does a customer support rep really need a PC? How about the increasing numbers of workers who do most of their work over the web? As the growth of Software as a Service continues to expand the need for a PC on every desk with diminish too.

3. Security of data has long been the bain of many security officers. If a user can easily download sensitive customer data onto a desktop problems will and do occur. I have seen too many articles about how a PC was accidentially lost with lots of customer data. While there are other ways of protecting data, many companies are looking at locking down the desktop device so that data storage is not even an option.

4. The capabilities of a thin client environment are growing more sophisticated. It is now becoming practical to implement multimedia on a non-PC. It is also possible to create a powerful environment where there is enough communications power to enable a user with a non-PC device to easily access information quickly.

5. And maybe your desktop capability will be available as a service. Several companies I have spoken with lately are making desktop sophistication available as a service. This is part of the overall movement to a long term cloud computing movement.

I think that once customers move out of the pilot stage with desktop virtualization they will move to wide deployments. I expect that the 100 desktop virtualization experiments that are successful will trigger deployments of 10s of thousands of deployments. Therefore, expect to see a huge surge of adoption within the next few years.

About Judith Hurwitz

Judith Hurwitz is an author, speaker and business technology consultant with decades of experience.

  1. A really interesting green computer technology I found is desktop virtualization. It’s where multiple people can use the same computer at the same time each with their own monitor, mouse and keyboard. This saves a lot of electricity and e-waste. A company called Userful recently set a virtualization world record by delivering over 350,000 virtual desktops to schools in Brazil. They have a free 2-user version for home use too. Check it out: userful.com

  2. Excellent blog! Interesting article and very informative! I will necessarily subscribe for this blog. http://hiptop.ru/map.html

  3. I came across your article on desktop virtualization and agree wholeheartedly that there are many benefits to this approach. It is my belief that to make desktop virtualization a viable alternative, the next logical step is for vendors to embrace application virtualization using Microsoft SoftGrid or VMware’s Thinapp (formerly Thinstall) technology. By separating the applications from the desktop OS some of the DLL nightmares are eliminated and updates are then centralized and there is no installation of the app updates into the hosted desktop OS. This approach to centralized application deployment, or application streaming, is a critical step for managing the evolution to hosted desktops.

  4. To answer Bjorn’s question, it depends. In general, here’s the two reasons vdi is sometimes better than a terminal server…

    1. Quite a few apps do not work reliably on a terminal server. They all will work fine with vdi.

    2. Printing. 10yrs later, and the #1 problem with most citrix deployments is as basic as getting printing to work without hassles. Printing in vdi is done virtually the same as with desktops. (pardon the pun)

    On a side note, one of the main benefits that citrix is supposed to provide over vdi is higher client consolidation ratios (more users attached to each server). I don’t think that advantage will be as big with vmware’s memory sharing technology..

    On the pro-citrix side, the problem I mentioned in #1 can largely be solved today using an app virtualization solution (softgrid, thinstall, ect).

    Couple things that vmware vdi allows, that citrix can’t touch…live machine migration. In vdi, a user’s desktop can be moved to a new server LIVE, while the user is working. This allows for dynamic balancing of workload across physical servers. Also allows for maintennance of servers at any random time during the day. Another vmware vdi feature is built-in high availability, to auto-restart a user’s vm if the server crashes. User’s have to wait through a couple minutes of downtime while their vm comes up on a new server, but it’s at least automatic.

  5. I could easily adopt your 5 reasons when arguing for the good old terminal servers.

    I state that any discussion about virtual desktops needs to address why the terminal server is not the better choice.

  6. I think you are being a little optimistic about the speed with which this will move Judith. Our research tells us that there is a big knowledge and appreciation gap among IT pros, and this will not be fixed overnight. None of the vendors believe it will take off that quicky either.

    Personally, I think the remainder of 2008 will be be taken with the vendors figuring out how to articulate the various propositions and beginning to get their act together on the go-to-market piece. 2009 will then be the proof of concept year, with large scale mainstream implementations starting to pick up in 2010.

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