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January 10th, 2011

Does Virtualization of Desktops or end points mean startling savings and enhanced user-experiences alone? We examine the claims with a pinch of reality.

A recent Gartner study reports a startling statistic: Any matured or well managed enterprise spend an average of $5000 annually on managing a single end-point machine (the humble desktop or laptop). This is exclusive of the cost of applications installed; rather it is the cost of the effort involved in ensuring that it is productive to the end-user! This fact has been influential enough to send CIOs across the board scouring the IT landscape for vendors who can rapidly deploy Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) as a solution, and take the stress of managing individual machines out of the daily agenda and let the business users do the work they do best. But this blog post examines this euphoric quest with a pinch of reality.

There is no doubting the fact that there are several benefits that arise out of anytime, anywhere access that VDI enables: Thin Clients at work and Net Books while telecommuting are enabling a growing workforce to work without having to spend time and money on traveling to work. Coupled with instant scalability to meet emerging business needs, the ability to streamline software upgrades, and insure against data loss via the security of a central repository, VDI appears to be the silver bullet. The bottom-line is clear: VDI has the potential to save you TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) by bringing down capital expenditure (Capex) as thin clients are cheaper and sturdier, and the ability to remotely manage and resolve issues on a virtual infrastructure reduces desktop maintenance and management costs remarkably.

But this is where the CIO needs to pause and take a look within the organization to see if there is something more to VDI than what it appears. Additional licensing costs associated with virtualization, management, and desktop software could offset the advantages of lower capital outlay. That’s not all, more demanding desktop engineering requirements that stem from the complexity of designing and managing VDI environments can drive up costs.

That’s not all. According to another study by Gartner VDI may not be geared up to handle the high IOPS (Input/Output per Second) levels of ‘chatty’ Operating Systems like those on the Windows platform. Whether it is server performance, storage hassles or network issues of the average office worker, the traditional fat-client model may score higher on all the counts over VDI.

At the end of the day it is the user needs that should determine the decision. Rather than focus on Return on Investment (RoI) in VDI, which most impact measurements speak of, it would be worthwhile to look at Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which in any scenario looks at a combination of Capex, cost of OS, applications, and the cost of managing and supporting the users.

That’s not all. There's more to go. The needs of users vary with the nature of the business that the company is involved in. For instance, take the case of a Design Engineer whose job is to create intricate designs using advanced tools in the realm of CAD/CAE. Typically such users need a plethora of applications that run out of different platforms to effectively execute their tasks. This user scenario would not benefit from VDI, because the cost involved in virtualization of such a specific environment far outweighs the savings from it. It has been seen that users who have purely transactional business needs with a limited number of applications draw the maximum benefit from VDI. Accounting, purchasing and order processing are examples that come to mind.

Determining your readiness for virtualization is an area where GSS specializes: our process-driven approach makes the use of the VDI-Fitment Tool that takes into account the nature of your business and the needs of your users before coming up with an answer to whether VDI will deliver actually the value that it promises. We have the necessary expertise to take the call whether virtualization makes sense for your work environment.

Would you like to know more about how we can make VDI work for you? Click here to read more about GSS Infotech’s service offerings in this space.