The idea of virtualizing desktops (often referred to as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI) would appear to be gaining traction and mindshare. Indeed companies like VMware and a host of other smaller virtualization technology provides are spending large amounts of their budgets on promotion and enabling VDI. However, many IT pros (myself included) are skeptical.
A recent article written by Christina Torode, Users eye VDI but may wait for client hypervisors is now available on TechTarget’s SearchWinIT site. I was interviewed for the article and got a change to provide some of my input. Here’s an excerpt of some of my comments quoted in the article:
Cheaper alternatives to desktop virtualization
For independent consultant Anil Desai, VDI presents a dilemma. It promises to address security problems such as lost laptops and give IT better control over remote workforces. But he doesn’t see virtual desktop technology as the best way to solve these and other business problems.
He said there are more cost-effective ways to reduce security risks and gain control over user devices with existing technologies. There is the ability in Windows to restrict access to the USB drive or to improve manageability with remote management tools that lets IT cut physical visits to desktops and use the Remote Desktop Protocol, just as VDI uses.
Another example is the alternative of Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services for resource, hardware and management consolidation versus using VDI. Terminal Services in Windows Server 2008 lets IT run a single application in a virtual environment, in turn centralizing application management, he said.
Then there’s the overall cost for a virtual desktop infrastructure versus buying desktops. "When you see how much infrastructure, power and server resources go into a VDI solution versus getting desktops that have come down so much in price, I just don’t see the justification for that kind of investment," Desai said.
Desai said he is backing the concept of a client hypervisor and is waiting to see what the big three — VMware, Microsoft and Citrix — will do in this area. "It can reduce potential application conflicts and speed up deployments on many operating system platforms," he said.
Overall, it will be interesting to see what happens here – will VDI be just another over-hyped technology that never made significant inroads into corporate IT? Or, is this is a real technology that will start replacing full desktops?