The Year of the Hybrid Desktop

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When Is It Right for a Business to Consider Desktop Virtualization?

Tips for determining whether desktop virtualization is right for your business.

IT executives have been talking about desktop virtualization a lot in 2010 and more than a few have moved to at least test some form of it.

There are, of course, a fair number of issues with different forms of desktop virtualization. Perhaps the most widely discussed form of desktop virtualization is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). But given all the performance and cost issues associated with VDI, it is little wonder that many IT organizations never get to the point where they use VDI in a production environment.

Despite all these issues, it seems pretty clear that in 2011 many IT organizations will be deploying some form of desktop virtualization. But Jeff Fisher, vice president of business development for RES Software, a provider of virtual desktop management software, notes that desktop virtualization is not a panacea for all applications. No matter what, there are just going to be some applications that are still going to need to run natively on a local machine.

This, says Fisher, will create something of a management challenge in 2011 because physical and virtual desktops will need to be aligned to use the same printer and individual user settings. End users are simply not going to tolerate having two distinct user experiences when it comes to running applications.

What all that means is that in 2011, IT organizations are going to have to insert a layer of software that abstracts the user management layer from the physical and virtual desktop. That layer of software will then allow users to seamlessly access printers and other devices from within both a virtual or physical desktop without having to toggle between environments or worry about which desktop environment is attached to what device.

What Fisher is describing may seem like a relatively simple issue. But given the fact that many end users are naturally suspicious of desktop virtualization, any IT organization that plans to embrace desktop virtualization in 2011 should think through all the basic issues that could wind up derailing end-use support for the project.

After all, it's not the big things that kill IT projects. Rather it's the death of a thousand little cuts that usually leads to the user rebellion that eventually leaves the IT project to wither and then eventually die on the vine. So as we head into 2011, maybe one of your resolutions for 2011 should be to not let this happen to your desktop virtualization project.