Virtualisation giant VMware has put together a specialist crack team to tackle the opportunity of converting legacy "fat client" PC desktops in Australian organisations to slimline virtualised environments, as more virtual desktop roll-outs continue to emerge around the country.
In late June, the City of Cockburn revealed it was one of the first organisations in Australia to undertake a roll-out of virtualised desktops across its entire operations, shifting some 200 desktop PCs to VMware's View solution (version 4.0).
In tendering documentation released over the past several weeks, the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters in South Australia revealed it had also standardised on VMware View.
"The council's server environment is virtualised with VMware vSphere 4 and the desktop environment is virtualised with VMware View 4," the council stated in tender documents, as it went to market for new desktop thin clients, personal computers and other hardware in areas such as storage area networks. The council has 84 workstations in its head office and other machines scattered around branch offices.
"It's going particularly well for us," said Harapin of the virtual desktop opportunity. "We're really starting to see an uptake." VMware's new desktop team has sales staff as well as those working in technical and professional services to aid customers with their desktop shift.
The executive said VMware's largest virtual desktop customer in Australia was in the federal public sector with about 3700 seats — although he couldn't say which department it was.
The Department of Defence has long been examining the case for taking many of its desktops into thin client territory, with chief information officer Greg Farr having lamented the fact that many staff have several desktop PCs on their desks due to the need to maintain separate networks for different classification levels of data.
Harapin said that as well as public sector take-up, VMware was also seeing adoption by banks, and there was still a lot of use of the technology in call centres and overseas development houses where organisations wanted to deliver desktop services but keep the data stored in Australia.
In addition, he said he was seeing adoption in organisations of between 200 and 1000 seats, with local councils being a good example.
However, the VMware chief said that the desktop section was just one piece of the puzzle. Customers were also virtualising older applications, with the shift to modern operating systems like Windows 7 often leaving legacy software behind. And the bigger picture was even broader; customers wanted to be able to access company services on any device.
"Whether there'll be lots of desktops around in the next few years is debatable, what there will be is people with lots of devices — iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry," said Harapin. "I don't travel now with my laptop, whereas I used to. Now I just take my iPad."
"Frankly, I can do almost everything I want to do off the iPad. And that's what more and more companies are looking at. How do we deliver services to the user, regardless of what device they have."