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Updated: May 29, 2010 13:21 IST

What's driving desktop virtualisation?

D. Murali
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Simpler provisioning of new desktops, reduced downtime in the event of server or client hardware-failures, lower cost of deploying new applications, desktop image-management capabilities, and longer refresh cycle for client desktop infrastructure ? all these are listed in Wikipedia as advantages of ?desktop virtualisation,? the theme of my conversation with Sanjay Deshmukh, Area Vice President of Citrix Systems India Pvt Ltd, Mumbai (

What are the factors driving the adoption of desktop virtualisation? Three main drivers are behind the accelerated adoption of virtual desktops, says Sanjay: compliance, operational efficiency and cost.

The compliance aspect, as he explains, is driven by a growing desire to prevent data loss, and more stringent data access requirements driven by increasingly sophisticated auditors. VDI or virtual desktop interface is a great way to manage and control where critical data flow in the organisation, adds Sanjay.

?On the operational efficiency front, VDI has the ability to significantly reduce operating expenses by centralising desktop maintenance and reducing desk-side support needs. Acute downward pressure on capital and operational expenditure is now driving adoption of desktop virtualisation.?

Moving from the face-to-face to virtual format, we continue our interaction over the mail.

Excerpts from the interview.

Would you like to talk about the adoption of the concept in India?

The concept has many drivers in the Indian scenario. Desktop virtualisation offers a way to extend the benefits of virtualisation ? better performance, lower TCO (total cost of ownership), higher security and greater flexibility ? to the full desktop. The current Windows desktop has a variety of drivers:

? Cost: Businesses have tried everything to reduce desktop management costs including outsourcing, automated help desks, and remote service technologies, but costs continue to increase. ?PC architectures enable the greatest degree of flexibility in terms of application diversity, configuration options and degrees of manageability,? notes Gartner. ?This flexibility has its costs, however, because TCO for PCs can range between $4,000 and $9,000 (or more) per user per year.?

? Security: When PCs are lost, damaged, or stolen ? along with proprietary or private data that is stored on them ? the results can be negative press and even legal consequences.

? Regulatory push: In some industries, such as healthcare in particular, sensitive data are restricted by law from leaving the data centre, and users are not permitted to store or manipulate client data on their devices.

? Business continuity: The need to protect IT systems (including desktops) and run a global operation in times of power outages, disruptive weather events, labour unrest, and many other challenges is greater than ever.

? Desktop management: Inevitably, users install non-approved programs, break crucial functionality such as anti-virus, fail to perform backups, and forget to apply security patches and hot-fixes.

Does one size fit all?

Desktop virtualisation is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are different paths to take that will depend largely on the task of the end-user. Each member of the workforce plays a different role and requires access to different applications.

Some end-users require a highly customised and personalised workspace, while, for example, call centre or customer support departments may only need access to a small set of applications to perform their job responsibilities ? the operating system has no real impact on their productivity.

Some users need the same environment every time they log on and some employees can fully perform their individual job functions with bare bones, locked down operating environment. The key takeaway is that there are numerous deployment scenarios and the most efficient desktop virtualisation technology must be applied to the individual user type ? whether via VDI, shared desktops, or streamed OS solutions.

For instance, we have identified six different types of desktops; some require simplicity and standardisation, while others require high performance and personalisation. The below-mentioned points elaborate on the different types of desktops:

? Hosted shared desktops provide a locked down, streamlined and standardised environment with a core set of applications, ideally suited for task workers where personalisation is not needed ? or allowed.

? Hosted VM (virtual machine)-based VDI desktops offer a personalised Windows desktop experience, typically needed by office workers, which can be securely delivered over any network to any device.

? Hosted blade PC desktops enable technical workers and power users to run professional graphics applications such as CAD/CAM, GIS, etc., which typically require more processing resources.

? Local streamed desktops leverage the local processing power of rich clients, while providing centralised single-image management of the desktop.

? Virtual apps to installed desktops offer many of the ROI (return on investment) and management benefits of a fully virtualised desktop with minimal setup costs, making the same an ideal starting point for customers new to desktop virtualisation.

? Local VM-based desktops extend the benefits of centralised, single-instance management to mobile workers who need to use their laptops offline.

On the main benefits.

Here are a few benefits that accrue both to IT and business users:

* Faster, cheaper support: Desk-side visits are virtually eliminated, so IT can provide faster support with lower costs. Business users don?t need to wait for personnel to come on-site for support, so they can get back to work faster.

* Better security and compliance: Centralised control of applications and data ensures IT can protect corporate data, even if the remote system is lost or infected. Business users can recover rapidly from accidental data loss, laptop theft, or malware infection.

* Balance of control and usability: IT can lock down a secure, standardised, and centrally controlled corporate desktop environment. Business users can have both an open, usable, personalised desktop environment, and a corporate desktop environment.

* Higher availability: IT can recover failing systems quickly and easily from central storage, using server redundancy to deliver high availability. If their own system fails, users can quickly recover their unique, personal environment on any healthy system.

* Workforce productivity and flexibility: Centralised control allows fast and easy provisioning of new systems for permanent and temporary workers in any location. Business users can be more productive and mobile, with near-immediate access to new systems regardless of location.

And, finally, the areas to look out for to ensure success.

? Identify right DV (desktop virtualisation) delivery method.

? Consider virtualisation?s impact on performance and backup.

? Ensure excellent user experience.

? Check the maturity for vendor technology.

? Meet the right needs.


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