Valovic on Virtualization

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VDI's Complexities: Out of the Fog

Desktop virtualization is a new set of technologies. You can tell this because even the words we use to describe things frequently cause more confusion than they communicate -- we do not have a generally accepted terminology yet. The reality is that all new technologies go through this phase. Realistically, how could we have words to describe things that have not existed before?

Over time, the terminology matures and ultimately a set of best practices emerge that describe how the technology is best used. Championing clarity in these confusing times has long been a goal of mine. Consequently, I was delighted when, at the end of last year, a significant source of confusion disappeared. Here is what changed.

There are two very different approaches to desktop virtualization and we are in a period of transition between the two. The first approach was to keep and run a desktop image for each user in the datacenter -- effectively virtualizing the physical machine and running it on a server in the datacenter. While this reduced desk-side support requirements and can help security, it did not reduce the number of desktops components that require constant management. In fact, only minimal cost savings are achieved over traditional desktop PCs. Gartner confirmed this in a paper in October that concluded that this approach delivers only a 4-10 percent saving.

The newer, more efficient approach is referred to as "componentized," "pooled," "on demand" or "dynamic" (remember what I was saying about terminology earlier). In this model, the desktop image is split up into its components and assembled as needed for a user. In practice, this means bringing together a copy of the operating system, all of the user's applications and the user's personality on demand to give a familiar PC experience to the user. The benefits of this are that IT gets to standardize the operating environment to improve service levels and lower costs.

Up to now, the reality has been Citrix had a far better capability than VMware, and this led to confusion between the two solutions. With the release by VMware of View 3, however, the field is significantly leveled with both vendors having competitive features for delivering componentized desktops. Hence, a significant cause of confusion is removed and we can now concentrate on how we get most benefit from componentized desktops.

Posted by Tom Valovic on 01/27/2009 at 12:49 PM


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