While there's a lot of interest these days in desktop virtualization, one could argue that the two leading models currently being put forward are little more than half measures.
The more widely deployed version of desktop virtualization today is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Organizations with lots of server virtualization expertise tend to favor this model. But many organizations object to the increased costs in network bandwidth and storage infrastructure that almost inevitably force organizations to upgrade their IT infrastructure to deploy VDI.
More recently, Intel has been promoting an intelligent desktop virtualization (IDV) architecture that relies more on local processing and storage. But while many find this approach to be more cost effective from an infrastructure perspective, they argue that most existing IDV offerings do little to reduce the management cost associated with PC environments, which over time is the single biggest expense associated with any PC environment.
What's needed, says Barry Phillips, chief marketing officer for Wanova, a provider of a desktop virtualization and management platform, is an approach to IDV that makes it easier for IT organizations to centralize PC management. Phillips says that when it comes to desktop virtualization, what's really required is the ability to split Windows into multiple virtual layers. Using Wanova's Mirage platform allows IT organizations to continue to run applications and user data locally, while the Windows base layer, driver library and department application layer is managed and run centrally.
This approach, says Philips, doesn't interfere with an end user's desire to have control over his or her personal desktop environment, while at the same time it gives IT organizations access to a centralized management platform that reduces migration costs because it spans both desktop and mobile computing devices running multiple flavors of Windows.
In addition, the Mirage approach simplifies backup and recovery and only requires a single server to support as many as 1,500 users, which is significantly more than what can be accomplished in a typical VDI scenario, says Phillips. As the Wanova environment scales, Phillips says that organizations can save as much as $300,000 per 1,000 users.
When it comes to managing Windows desktops, most IT organizations have simply grinned and beared it for more years than anyone cares to remember. But as desktop virtualization starts to converge with next-generation system management tools and technologies, the way Windows environments can be managed is going to substantially change. Given all the pressure on IT organizations to add meaningful value to the business, a change that allows them to spend less time on low-level maintenance work can't arrive soon enough.