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Don't Be Fooled! There's More To Desktop Virtualization than VDI

Flexibility determines if you will succeed

8th Virtualization Expo New York

My role allows me to speak with many different people (customers, technologists, coworkers, administrators, etc). I've been able to see presentations comparing the different desktop virtualization solutions out there.  One of the problems I see is that many of the solutions only focus on one aspect of desktop virtualization, and that is the VDI model.

VDI is only one aspect of the entire desktop virtualization solution.  This is a concept that many fail to comprehend. For example, I attended Gartner ITExpo and was amazed at how many people I talked to only thought about the VDI scenario (you know VDI, allowing you to have a remote virtual desktop running on a hypervisor in the data center).  When I talked to people about the other options, I could see their eyes light up.

If you are reading this and only know about the VDI version, the I suggest you take a look at FlexCast to get a better understanding at all of the different options out there (FYI, even the CIO magazine identifies there is more to desktop virtualization than VDI). But in a nutshell, there is more to desktop virtualization. It can include:

  • Hosted shared desktop
  • Hosted VM-based VDI desktop
  • Hosted blade PCs
  • Streamed local desktop
  • Virtual Apps to installed desktops
  • Local VM-based desktop
  • I want to focus on the Streamed local desktops scenario. This is the one that really got people's attention at Gartner.  Why?  Because most organizations do not do a big bang effect of replacing their end point devices. Instead, most have a rolling lifecycle where each year a portion of the endpoints are upgraded and over the course of 3-4 years the entire desktop environment has been upgraded. Once the process completes, it starts over, never ending.  

    Let's now say you are embarking on a desktop virtualization project.  It seems like  a waste of resources and money to idle those desktops that are only 1 year old. They are powerful enough to run Windows 7 and the latest applications, so why would we not use the hardware we already have?  This is where the streamed local desktop comes in. It uses the same XenDesktop infrastructure, the same OS images, the same application layer and the same personalization layer.  The only thing that changed is the hardware layer.  

    As money always seems to speak louder than words, think about it this way: If you have 3,000 desktops and they are replaced every 3 years on a rolling cycle, that means 1,000 of those desktop are less than 1 year old.  If you estimate 50-100 virtual desktops on a hypervisor (Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware ESX) then you need 10-20 fewer physical servers, which is a substantial cost savings (and even greater if you are using a hypervisor that costs money).

    So I encourage all of you to not think about the VDI-only solution but instead to look at your environment as a whole. Chances are you will see that VDI-only might work for you, but probably isn't the best way to run your business. Think about it this way... You can create documents in Notepad, but would you really base your business on a solution that only does one thing, or would you use a more complete solution like Microsoft Word that gives you options?

    More Stories By Daniel Feller

    Daniel Feller, Lead Architect of Worldwide Consulting Solutions for Citrix, is responsible for providing enterprise-level architectures and recommendations for those interested in desktop virtualization and VDI. He is charged with helping organizations architect the next-generation desktop, including all flavors of desktop virtualization (hosted shared desktops, hosted VM-based desktops, hosted Blade PC desktops, local streamed desktops, and local VM-based desktops). Many of the desktop virtualization architecture decisions also focuses on client hypervisors, and application virtualization.

    In his role, Daniel has provided insights and recommendations to many of the world’s largest organizations across the world.

    In addition to private, customer-related work, Daniel’s public initiatives includes the creation of best practices, design recommendations, reference architectures and training initiatives focused on the core desktop virtualization concepts. Being the person behind the scenes, you can reach/follow Daniel via Twitter and on the Virtualize My Desktop site.

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