VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

Summary: VMware execs are optimistic that a bevy of Windows 7 upgrades can finally accelerate adoption of desktop virtualization. Is this time different?


Information technology folks have heard it all before---the desktop will be thin; PCs will be virtualized; there will be centralized control of multiple computing devices. That chatter has been going on for more than a decade to no avail.

Is this time different?

Tod Nielsen, chief operating officer of VMware, thinks so, but he's not going to be screaming from the rooftops about virtualized desktops. Why? Many executives have talked that game and we're still waiting for there thin, virtualized clients to become the norm.

Nielsen had a nice summary on the state of desktop virtualization on VMware's earnings conference call:

We continue to hold high expectations for the desktop virtualization market, yet it remains difficult to predict at what pace customer interest and evaluations will turn into accelerated buying. We are seeing Windows 7 upgrades and the proliferation of new end-user devices such as the iPad and smart phones, are fueling public discussion and customer interest. However, no single technical or economic tipping point is emerging as the accelerant to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure adoption.

What is emerging is a trend where IT executives are exploring much broader architectural implications of managing users in dramatically different ways. Many customers are not looking at a traditional product feature cost/benefit analysis, but rather asking larger questions about how they're going to manage users in a dramatically changing world defined by mobility, ubiquitous computing and increasing end-user demand and expectations. We believe this bodes well for VMware as we further position our desktop strategy within the context of these broader requirements and architectural changes.

VMware CEO Paul Maritz echoed VMware's desktop virtualization plans. Executives also talked about a new version of View, which would enhance the company's desktop virtualization plans. VMware View is software that's aimed at virtualizing the desktop upgrade cycle.

Maritz said:

At the end-user or desktop level, we seek to build upon the current model of desktop virtualization and speak to the need of enterprises to focus more on managing users and spend less time managing devices, particularly in a world where endpoint devices are becoming increasingly heterogeneous. We'll be providing a path to our customers whereby they can move forward in an evolutionary way from their current Windows-centric environments and, in this context we are looking forward to the release of 4.5.

One analyst on the call noted that 2011 could be the year of desktop virtualization.

Nielsen said:

As I think we said in the past calls, there's a strong interest in VDI, desktop virtualization, in general. We've, in some quarters, had as much as 60% of our proof-of-concept resource focused on desktop and desktop virtualization. With Windows 7 and those sort of rollouts and upgrades on the horizon, there's definitely a strong interest, as many customers are saying, if they're going to make the upgrade to Windows 7, they're going to make a transformative change, like a desktop virtualization effort as well. So I'm a little bit cautious to declare 2011 the year of the desktop since for the last few years it's been declared the year of the desktop, but we're optimistic on the opportunity.

My take: The time for desktop virtualization on an enterprise scale will be right at some point. It just makes too much sense. Meanwhile, we've heard from a few CIOs who have been pondering using virtualization to deploy Windows 7. Those efforts remain mostly on the whiteboard though. But if you're going to upgrade to Windows 7 you might as well go  for a bigger bang. Nielsen's cautious optimism approach about desktop  virtualization also makes a lot of sense. The rub: If Windows 7 doesn't spur desktop virtualization it could be another six years before it's on the table again. Those desktop upgrade cycles are only getting longer.

Topics: Virtualization, Hardware, VMware

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  • RE: VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

    It has taken the first 10+ years of VMware's existence to get to a 25% virtualization of the production data center. It has taken Citrix over 20+ years to attempt to centralize application delivery at the desktop. Mobility doesn't need an x86/x64 backend, Windows 7 is a false driver, massive VDI will not happen in 2011, sorry.
  • I'm with you

    We shelved thin clients for 2010 due to the cost and I don't see money magically appearing for the 2011 budget!
  • RE: VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

    I love VMWare and use it everyday for (local virtual) desktops and local and remote servers, but one thing that prevents me from doing the remote desktop vm thing is lag time. Even using the quickest RDP clients, the GUI experience is significantly different. In particular, scrolling windows. I do tons of programming and spend all day in a source code editor, constantly scrolling up and down and paging up and down and quite frankly, remote desktop just can't cut it. Not to mention working with graphics, and God forbid.... VIDEO!

    Another problem (for techies like me) is the lack of control over my desktop. With lesser educated tech employees making decisions for my development desktop (which is usually management's goal in a virtual desktop environment (more control over employees desktops))... that's just really frustrating. A developer needs control of their own desktop. This may work for non technical jobs and only those that don't involve graphics work. I don't see this adding more value than it takes away from developers and other highly technicle workers.
    Software Architect 1982
  • I'm not exactly sure what the article ...

    ... is talking about, but it seems to me that VMware should try and use virtualization to supplement PC functionality, rather than replace it. In other words, VMware should encourage companies to deploy legacy apps (which cannot run natively on Windows 7) as virtualized applications, as well as apps companies would like to make available anywhere (e.g. on partners or clients' PCs).
    P. Douglas
    • RE: VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

      @P. Douglas
      Couldn't agree more. The goal should not be about replacing your entire desktop at least for now. Its a good idea if your shop is set up for hoteling configuration. But I have found a much nicer use of virtualization in tools and functionality here and there for certain tasks.

      I think a compelling use of virtualization is to wrap it around browsers in offices. That would help tremendously with security and virus control. Companies would see fairly quick savings on that but the ramp up is probably expensive.
  • Undoubtedly, there are applications for desktop ...

    ... virtualization but they are anything but universal. If you want to deliver desktop productivity tools to a 100 concurrent users across a high speed (100base-T) network, desktop virtualization can save you a bundle on desktop maintenance.<br><br>Utilizing thin clients, or extending the lifecycle of aging desktop systems can save you a few more bucks. (Depending upon your 'seat utilization'.)<br><br>Utility costs are reduced because virtualization lets you reduce the number of unused machine cycles. However, this assumes a relatively contant load on your servers.<br><br>Licensing costs are another matter. Virtualization can allow you to deliver applications with high per-seat costs but low frequency of use to a larger number of non-concurrent users but only if the vendor agrees to permit such use. <br><br>Desktop virtualization is still in its infancy and smaller vendors with specialized applications my not have the technical expertise to address secure delivery in such an environment. This does not even touch on the legal implications of crafting new licensing terms (or even legislation) to protect vendors utilizing virtualization models.<br><br>Finally, the overlooked issue of bandwidth. By virtualizing the desktop and placing it in a centralized location, there will be added load on the network. If the provider of the virtualization technology has end-to-end control of the network, this increased bandwith utilization might be manageable but if any part of that network delivery is across the public network, end-users may see a degradation of service. This is particularly true for applications dependent upon streaming technologies or high-performance graphics.
    M Wagner
  • More blah from the blah factory

    Seriously, virtualization of desktops wont happen on a large scale for many years. The performance and functionality is just not there yet.

    Can we talk about more important matters now?
  • RE: VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

    In my experience, companies have a hard time swallowing the up front cost of a good VDI deployment. So they just fall into the same practices they have done for years, buy physical desktop. Plus it is hard to convince users of the benefits (mobility and performance) after they get a bad taste from using VMware Desktop (or any type 2 hypervisor). There is a learning curve for users on the difference between desktop hypervisors and true enterprise hypervisors. Unless users have a good first impression on a well built VDI, it all goes down the toilet. Users want to hug and cuddle that physical blanky, but they need to let go.
  • RE: VMware: Desktop virtualization tipping point in 2011?

    One of the issues in the whole VDI debate is that some IT people take VDI vs other solutions (like Terminal Server) as an "either/or" proposition. The fact is that Terminal Server has advantages over VDI, while VDI also has advantages over Terminal Server. That's why most organizations are best served by adopting a hybrid approach, with an optimal mix of Terminal Server (for task-oriented users), VDI (for power users), and Blade PCs (stock traders, graphic designers, etc.) which delivers the most benefit and platform flexibility to the organization.

    Ericom Software's PowerTerm WebConnect facilitates this hybrid approach by managing access to Terminal Server, VDI and Blade PCs, all with one management tool, one product.

    For more info on the hybrid approach visit: