Should Enterprises Virtualize the Desktop?

6/30/2015 • by Josh Topolski

While that is a highly valid question, the answer is multi-faceted. The truth is, it depends on the size of your enterprise, its goals and fiscal bottom line. There are certainly advantages to embracing this newest mobile applicable technology, but all sides should be closely examined before a decision is made.

Desktop Virtualization Overview

To get a clear understanding of the concept as a whole: basically cloud computing is utilized to create a desktop image. This image is then applied through a remote server to all the computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones your company utilizes. IT can then make updates from their offices and all users will benefit in a timely manner.

VMWare and Mobile Device Management

VMWare has cornered the market on mobile device management. It saw the need and potential in mobile technology and therefore created Airwatch and then Horizon 6. Custom applications can be created from a single workspace and transferred to all involved users. This saves significant IT time because individual desktops don’t have to be addressed.

VDI and Images

In old school IT methodology, IT support would set up a new PC and then image the desktop and add apps and install software. While this always seemed like a good idea, eventually updates were necessary in software and hardware and the original PC, and its image, was no longer usable.

VDI has changed this issue by enabling administrators to remotely update the workspace image across multiple PCs and devices. This is hugely beneficial given the number of programs that seem to require constant updates. With VDI workspace imaging, these updates can be performed without having to visit each user interface, saving money and time.

Citrix Solutions

Citrix’s VDI version is called XenDesktop. The greatest advantage to Citrix’s XenDesktop design is the way it employs and supports user collaboration. GoToMeeting enables sharing of desktop screens, video conferencing and secure file transfer for teams meeting online through the program. Of course, Citrix points out that it provides the ability for mobile device users to access their desktops as well. This is the direction all VDI designers are going.

Challenges

The biggest challenge we see is that XenDesktop, VMWare and other VDI productions aren’t a good investment for every enterprise. For large entities like schools and medical facilities where vast numbers of users are interacting and regularly changing, VDI is a great plan. But for smaller businesses, the cost might be counterintuitive.

Additionally, there is a learning curve for the IT professionals that will be asked to utilize the software. Although that isn’t too hard to conquer, it is something to consider. So is the fact that WiFi connectivity can be problematic for mobile users. If it’s in and out at their location, the desktop won’t be accessible.

The bottom line, of course, is how many end users will benefit from this change in your technology program? Is that number large enough to support the expenditure on VDI software? Understand that you need to calculate the time and money invested in your current support personnel. If VDI can decrease that expenditure and improve your ability to recover if something tragic happens, then it’s a move that should probably be made. As with all things, weigh your options and finances carefully.

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