Business Issues, IT Infrastructure

Virtual desktop liberates IT staff

Drives mobility, too

Blog-post by,

In the midst of yet another “Year of the Virtual Desktop,” with our research showing production adoption of virtual desktops (to one degree or another) by about 54% of companies, I think it is worthwhile to talk about why to virtualize your desktops.

Don’t do it to save money.  It’s not that this is a bad goal (!) or one that cannot be achieved, although it can be non-trivial to accomplish and take longer than you want to show a good return. 

Do don’t do it to improve management and security.  You will get those things (if you successfully shift the bulk of your enterprise users to the virtualized platform and off traditional PCs) and if you do, your IT staff will be liberated. After all, managing enterprise desktops is a thankless task and one that few organizations have truly mastered.  At worst, poorly managed desktops create a constant stream of security and operational problems that waste the time of both IT and line-of-business staff.  At best, well-managed desktops require constant attention to avoid becoming active security threats and the steady degradation of performance.  But there are certainly remedies that don’t require virtualization.

Do it instead to free the enterprise desktop from the physical desktop (including laptops) and to free your staff’s ability to work from the availability and capabilities of those specific devices.

Enterprises we speak to in our research increasingly seek to break the boundaries of place and specific devices so that their staff can work, with the full spectrum of tools from anywhere, at any time, and using whatever devices make the most sense then and there.  That is, they seek to free their own operations as much as possible from restrictions of place and time and specific equipment; they seek to virtualize themselves.

Pressures to become a virtual enterprise come from many directions. Agility is a defining characteristic of the coming era of business—the ability to pursue quickly new opportunities, to assimilate new workers quickly, to make new tools available to them quickly. Virtual is more agile.

The spread of enterprises to more and smaller branches in pursuit of new opportunities and the spread of telework require an “always on” environment.

Most importantly, rapidly growing cohorts of workers expect to be able to work from home (or laundromat or wherever). 

These organizational needs are steadily less compatible with the traditional enterprise desktop.  They point to web and native phone apps, and SaaS…and the virtual desktop.  The virtual desktop offers the ideal transitional tool to take IT through the long shift to an ecosystem of apps and SaaS and web front ends  making the long tail of desktop apps available to tablet and even phone-based users, and independent of the endpoint: Mac or PC, IOS or Android, personally owned or company owned or other. 

So, there it is: bottom line, look at how best to virtualize the desktop in your organization to enable and empower a mobile, virtual enterprise.

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Paul Calento 255 Points | Mon, 10/22/2012 - 19:05

While the "Virtual desktop liberates IT staff," it is important to assess the usability of VDI. It has to be implemented for more than just easier manageability and reduced TCO. VDI doesn't work equally well for all applications, particularly in tablet or smartphone applications. Unless VDI aligns with business need and enhances the user experience it can create more problems than it solves. Can VDI get you fired? Perhaps.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by and HP)

Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Mon, 08/20/2012 - 17:48

Hi, John, enjoy the blog, like BYOD, desktop virtulization is to help improve employees productivity and flexility, from business perspective, it's about agility --doing things better, faster, cheaper, and elasticity -faster to scale and easy to provitioning, either server virtulization or desktop virtulization are also the good practice & preparation for business's cloud strategy, I like what you put: it will also offer the transitional tool to shift IT into ecosystem of apps and  making the long tail of destop apps aviable to mobile users,