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ESG's Bowker Downplays VDI

The worm continues to turn with VDI. Back in our Feb-March issue of this year, I wrote a piece entitled "Is VDI Still Viable," in which the technology was scrutinized by vendors and analysts. The four topics that kept coming up were intimidating upfront costs, prohibitively expensive operating environments, shared storage bottlenecks and questionable security capabilities. In the end, my conclusion was that VDI remained viable.

Fast forward to the recent VMworld show in San Francisco. In the course of interviewing Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst/guru Mark Bowker for my Microsoft Windows Server 2012 cover story, the topic turned to VDI, and Bowker came down hard on it, saying "I think VDI's pretty short-lived. I think that there's certain use cases, and we're starting to see some of those use cases fill up and that work makes sense. People will spend because it's such a big problem, but now I think that you're seeing people say, ‘OK, you know what, I've gotten to that point where there's other ways I can be addressing this problem.'"

I replied by saying that for the first time, I had been interviewing former VDI naysayers that were agreeing that VDI was past its major problems with expenses, complexity, shared storage and security.

Bowker stood his ground, saying, "Yeah. I'm just not convinced it's that." The way he sees it, VDI -- which Gartner said had two percent of the enterprise desktop space earlier this year -- is but one of many delivery models and only one many ways to improve desktop and application delivery.

He does concede that it's going to make sense in certain use cases, and that its costs are being driven down, primarily by storage.vendors, but also by software innovation.

"Some of the things they're doing with Horizon that involves encapsulating applications and basically putting a container around them on an iPhone or an Android device gets real interesting, but that's not VDI," he says. "That's true application delivery on a SmartPhone and not a VDI model."

Bowker says there are two places in the market that he finds very interesting. One revolves around how do we deliver applications and desktops, and what's that going to change? That involves enterprise mobility. The other one is more datacenter-focused, involving basic integration. That's more about putting servers, storage, and networking together -- changing change the consumption model -- and this is where the HP VirtualSystem, Dell vStart, and VCE come into the picture.

"Those two things I think are super interesting to watch," he says.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 09/21/2012 at 12:48 PM


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