One of the most time-consuming, frustrating things that any IT department has to deal with is the provisioning and ongoing management of PCs and their resident applications. Likewise, among users' biggest frustrations are the limits the IT department puts on the devices they can use and how long it takes the IT department to set up those applications.
Given the mutual levels of frustration, it seems that with the advent of virtualization, we're rapidly approaching a point where both sides might come away happy.
The IT department has needed to maintain some sanity amid the complexity associated with managing client devices. In theory, an IT organization can support any number of them, it's just that the cost has been prohibitive. But if an IT organization can create a virtual instance of a client that can be deployed remotely on any device, no physical device has to be supported, just a virtual one. In addition, end users can then provision their own applications and files as long as they get permission from a business manager. The IT department doesn't have to intervene.
This means users can choose the device they want to use in the workplace. It might even mean being given the option of buying for their own client device, using a stipend from the company or as a non-reimbursed business expense write-off on their taxes. In either scenario, it lowers the capital budget of the company while giving users more flexibility concerning client systems that they increasingly use for both work and play.
For the IT department, it means fewer headaches associated with manually provisioning tasks that take time away from adding real value to the business. And given the fact that virtual machines on the client also create an opportunity to deploy higher levels of data security, there are a lot of other downsteam benefits to consider as well.
It might take a little longer for desktop virtualization to fully mature in terms of mobile computing, but advances such as hypervisors for mobile computing and smarter virtual networks are right around the corner. And once those capabilities are in place, IT won't need to mandate what type of client device employees use.