How Desktop Virtualization Will Upend PC Vendors in the Enterprise

Michael Vizard

The whole movement toward end users buying their own devices for use in the enterprise so far is still pretty nascent. But desktop virtualization will not only make it standard practice, it will disintermediate many of the leading PC vendors in the enterprise.

Desktop virtualization is still in its infancy. Most of what we see in the enterprise is known as Type 2 virtualization in which a hypervisor runs on top of an operating system to allow, for instance, a Windows environment to run on top of a Macintosh operating system or vice versa.

But in the not-too-distant future, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices will be pushing Type 1 virtualization at the processor level. This will not only make it easier for IT organizations to deploy virtualization at the client level, it also will mean the IT organization will care a lot less about what that device is. As far as they are concerned, they will be managing the virtual machine and the hardware will become less relevant. In Intel parlance, this is known as dynamic desktop virtualization and device-independent mobility.

As IT organizations shift from managing hardware to virtual machine software, control over which device to acquire in the enterprise increasingly will shift to the user, according to Sam Gross, vice president of global IT outsourcing for Unisys. Workers will lay out their own cash, and take the appropriate tax deduction, to bring their own machines for work.

In fact, a new Unisys survey of 141 information workers found that 75 percent are willing to pay a portion of the cost of their PC if they can choose the device, while 95 percent said they were already using at least one employee-owned device at work already.

Gross says that means companies such as HP, Dell and Lenovo have the most to lose, while Apple and Acer have the most to gain. When the IT departments make the selection, they tend to choose vendors based on volume discounts and corporate standards. Workers, meanwhile, go with personal taste, which can only help to upend the incumbent PC vendors in the enterprise.

Gross says he expects to see HP, Dell and Lenovo trying to fight the consumerization of enterprise IT for as long as possible. But once senior business managers realize that they can push the capital costs associated with client hardware off onto employees, the floodgates will fly open.

The only real question, says Gross, is not whether this is going to happen, but rather how long is it going to take?

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