In the same way that server virtualisation has allowed organisations to tackle the mounting inefficiencies associated with provisioning and maintaining applications on dedicated hardware, desktop virtualisation helps rein in the costs of provisioning PCs.
Maintaining and managing the constantly changing mix of hardware and software is much of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a typical PC, and the bulk of the helpdesk workload for many organisations.
Moving desktop resources into the datacentre can simplify the lives of IT staff and the users they support. However, there are so many conflicting messages and flavours of technology out there that it is easy to think desktop virtualisation is actually more complicated than a traditional PC set-up.
I believe the key is in creating an infrastructure as simplified and centralised as possible.
With the computing horsepower coming from the datacentre, the requirements on the endpoint are reduced, so pared down devices may provide sufficient end-user access.
When you talk about a stripped-down endpoint, you are essentially describing a thin client, so it is no surprise that many early adopters of desktop virtualisation started off with small pilots using thin clients.
However, desktop virtualisation is becoming increasingly sophisticated, moving beyond thin clients to an entirely new type of device optimised for this type of environment: zero clients.
Zero clients are completely stateless dumb terminals with no moving parts, processing power, processing, storage or software at the endpoint, centralising all processing, configuration and management on the server in the datacentre.
In contrast, thin clients used for VDI have been adapted from a previous generation of client hardware designed for terminal services and application virtualisation. Thin clients may be limited single-purpose devices with embedded versions of Linux or resemble a moderately powerful PC running a full-blown Windows operating system.
The challenge has traditionally been convincing customers that desktop virtualisation will deliver a return on investment (RoI). For all the savings on endpoints that can be made, expenditure is required at the back end in terms of servers, storage and software licences.
Savings are really dependent on the type of endpoints selected. Many of the thin clients on the market still require software updates, and with numerous moving parts that can break. This is why I promote the zero-client option.
I believe the resellers most likely to cash in on desktop virtualisation are those that can most effectively demonstrate RoI through radical centralisation.
Chris Hammans is EMEA vice president at Pano Logic
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