Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

Summary: The case for VDI grows stronger with each passing billing cycle. It's time to gain control of your desktop infrastructure and save some money.

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TOPICS: CXO
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An interesting conversation arose over my post, "The Increasingly Irrelevant Desktop OS," that I placed over on LinkedIn in one of the Virtualization groups. One of the conversations trickled toward the issue of control. The excerpt from that thread reads, "I can see consumers not needing an OS for most of their daily activities. Web browsing, mail and streaming multimedia can all be done from a centralized location. Other than that, I do not see professionals giving up their OS of choice any time soon. That would simply involve giving up too much control."

True.

Giving up control of one's own desktop operating system is sort of like allowing someone to fly you across country in a plane or to drive you from the airport to your hotel. It's almost as if by giving up some of that need for control that other people could have decent jobs. That and the fact that it's less expensive than doing it yourself. The loss of control, however, is devastating regardless of cost.

It's funny how many IT support people, managers and corporate types believe that they need some sort of localized control over their operating systems, infrastructures and applications. I'm not sure what it is about computing that makes people feel like they must maintain ultimate control over these resources but it is an across-the-board attitude. It's very odd. It's odd and overrated. It's also a very expensive attitude to have.

And, as the reader clearly states, "...not needing an OS for most of their daily lives," it's a control issue, "That would simply involve giving up too much control," rather than a need or technology issue.

So, what he and so many companies are saying is, "Yes, we realize that maintaining legacy desktops is very expensive but we prefer to keep control by paying more for support, dealing with security problems, removing malware and viruses and maintaining various operating environment.

Awesome and shortsighted.

It seems to me that if someone wants to gain control of desktops, that he would actually embrace virtualized desktops (VDI) because of the higher level of control. Yes, there's far more control in VDI than in trying to maintain dozens, hundreds or thousands of renegade desktops and laptops running around gathering malware, viruses and pirated software.

It's all in your definition of control.

There's apparently control and then there's control.

No, I don't know the difference either. It makes no sense that someone would want control and then snub VDI, when VDI is the ultimate solution for those control freaks who claim that ultimate control is required. You have centralized management, simplified patching, guaranteed storage of user files, infinite possibilities for spying on users through logs and an immediate remedy when a worker's contract expires or employment terminates.

Why bother with that kind of control, when you can allow the terminated user to continue to have access to corporate data on that local computer?

And, yes, I've heard all of the arguments against cloud-based desktops and VDI. For example, "What happens when you don't have Internet access?" My answer is to change locations. Surely, you're mobile enough to head to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a library or friend's house. If you're telling me that you're in some place that doesn't have Internet access, then perhaps you should use that as "down time" and get some rest or use your computer for localized note taking until you return to civilization.

The issue of control is a ridiculous one to punt VDI into the dark and stormy future.

The money-saving aspect of VDI should provide enough impetus to at investigate the practicality of hosted desktops. Can you operate a localized desktop computer for $1/day? What about $3/day? Actually, the real cost of localized desktops is between $4/day and $5/day. My rule of thumb for estimating desktop costs was $800/year to $1,000/year. That was fifteen years ago. But, let's say for a moment that cost is still the same. That's between $2/day and $3/day. That's for each system.

And, prices for hosted desktops will fall over time and as more competition enters the market. Within two years, you'll be able to "lease" hosted desktops for 50 cents/day or less. Amazon's cloud system and storage prices have dropped steadily, since its offerings first appeared a few short years ago.

Your outdated attitudes toward VDI and hosted desktops is, well, outdated. It's time to gain real control of the spiraling costs and constant maintenance hassles. It's time to update your desktops and your attitudes. Welcome to the second decade of the twenty-first century.

So, I'd love to hear the excuses of why your company isn't jumping at the chance to convert those heavy and expensive desktops to lighter, hosted ones. Please, talk back and let me know.

Topic: CXO

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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41 comments
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  • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

    For new companies with zero legacy I totally agree with you. On the other hand many enterprises have tons of software they have to maintain in the traditional "controlled" way. It will take time to transition and nobody wants to start first.
    hakanernnews
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

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      filhomarques
  • Control is not about the OS, it's about data and security.

    Partially its about the control of our proprietary data, which you cloudy 'the network is the computer' people just can't wait to get your greedy little hands on.

    Even if you were trustworthy, more important is the fact that your cloudy security is, well, terrible. Look at TJX, they compromised 45 million plus customer's credit card data... and got away with it. 45 million people victimized by one hack.

    Now multiply that by the number of bundled groups which would be sharing your cloud service. The more potential money there is in one target, the greater the desire of the criminal element to hack it.

    Do you really think your cloud can secure data better than the FBI, which was awarded a failing grade by the government's own security analysis? Is that really a safe bet?

    Regards,
    Jon
    JonathonDoe
  • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

    Credit card numbers were hacked before there was a cloud. It isn't a cloud problem. Have you stopped using a laptop because someone's laptop was stolen and thousands of social security numbers were compromised? Have you stopped using bank ATMs because criminals will put fake strip readers on them? And, finally, have you stopped carrying a wallet because if you lose it or it gets stolen, all your personal info is in it?
    You can't blame the technology. It's more appropriate to blame the criminals and to make sure they never do it again.
    khess
    • No, but the cloud expands the problem worldwide.

      Hello khess,

      Sure, you're right, the blame is with the hackers not the technology ... but how are we to stop the criminals when they're in China and China turns a blind eye to their activities?

      Since we can't get all the criminals all around the world, we need to protect ourselves. To start with, how about we keep our stuff away from the them by NOT having it in the cloud?

      We already keep our critical infrastructure and proprietary data on a separate network which doesn't connect to the outside world for exactly this reason. Non-critical front-office and communications apps have internet access, but nothing important does.

      Recent history demonstrates that no-one (not even the government; see wikileaks for any number of examples) can keep internet accessible data safe.

      Additionally, we're small potatoes and probably not worth locating and hacking by ourselves ... but if you combine our data with that of dozens (perhaps hundreds) of other companies ... well, that becomes an irresistible target.

      Frankly, the whole concept of security and cloud are antithetical.

      Regards,
      Jon
      JonathonDoe
  • Even in rental buildings

    The tenant has locks on the doors.

    In exchange for the cheaper price, part of the control you give up is your ability to own your data and to make sure it is not stolen. As well as control over availability. If your cloud provider has a problem, you are in trouble and also, have very little recourse.

    There is a steeper price to pay when someone else outside the company has control and is negligent, incompetent or decides to exploit the fact they hold control and it will be painful for you to get away from them.
    fwarren
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @fwarren

      And that keystroke logger you just downloaded on your highly controlled local system is stealing your precious data.
      khess
      • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

        @khess

        As opposed to a keylogger on a hosted system stealing your precious data?
        SlithyTove
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @fwarren <br><br>There's clouds and there's clouds. If your cloud is facebook, then you are right, you have no protection. If your cloud is a locally hosted and well maintained server, then you do have some security. But, you should remember than security is not a product you can just buy and forget.<br><br>Security is a state of mind and a process. <br><br>Paranoia is only a problem if you are wrong. There's always a way in, keep looking until you find it, then fix the hole, and start looking again. Look first for traces that someone else broke in. Go from there.
      YetAnotherBob
  • Its about the data, not the OS, nor even the network

    I have to agree with Jon on this. Even though my organization does not handle any particularly sensitive data, losing control over our client data is not an option.
    The personal computer won against the cloud in the 80's because those who used computers for serious stuff knew how important control of their data was. Those same users and their reasons remain. Today though, we have many more casual users and their stuff can be placed pretty much anywhere as long as they can find it. The cloud is good for those.

    Your analogy of having someone drive you from the airport is really cute - not to mention bad for your case. Sure its nice to have someone pick you up from time to time, and to use public transport occasionally - but that will never be as responsive as having your own vehicle to go anywhere you want, when you want to. Its having control over your mobility. You realize this is the first thing one loses when one's freedom is taken away. Its a fundamental feature of life.

    Control over your own stuff is the simple definition of freedom. If you think that freedom is over rated and over priced you'll probably learn what a dangerous path you are on - when you lose it. Whatever can be said in favor of the cloud, no well thinking person will give up their freedom to control what is theirs because everybody else seems to be doing it.

    So, by all means, promote the cloud, but stay away from from berating persons who still believe in the freedom to control what is theirs. It is on their account that you still have the right to make your comments.
    laserdrill
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @laserdrill

      You totally missed the point. You're not really giving up any control, you're actually gaining control and freedom in the cloud. You ensure that user data is kept on recoverable storage, etc.
      I think the thing with cloud computing is, you either get it or you don't.
      khess
      • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

        @khess
        "I think the thing with [cloud] computing is, you either get it or you don't."
        Its interesting that I would have used the same words but from the other side. We could argue this point for a long time and never resolve it but I would expect stronger arguments in support of the wonderful cloud. To say "You ensure that user data is kept on recoverable storage, etc." assumes that somehow people who don't trust their data to the cloud are therefore incapable of ensuring ".... that user data is kept on recoverable storage, etc." May I suggest that people who choose to handle their own data understand the importance of this perhaps to a greater degree than those who just want to hand it off to somebody somewhere in the cloud.

        You can conceivably gain greater access to your data via the Internet, but you cannot possibly gain more control by trusting someone who is completely beyond your control to keep your data. Unless my understanding of these terms is severely warped, it seems to me that one has to decide to give up control in order to get the convenience of cloud computing. You cannot have it both ways.
        laserdrill
      • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

        @khess
        the cloud will give you more availability, but less security and ownership. What happens when the data you have is co-located with another company who gets seized by running afoul of the law. The cloud provider has to turn over the equipment with your data on it. they may have copies of it on another server so that it is still available, but now someone else has your data too. Also, how does the cloud company ensure that your data never leaves the U.S.? that the backups are fully erased when you remove your data from that company? too many security issues with cloud providers for anyone dealing with sensitive data. And just look in the news, at how many companies using cloud services have been hacked.
        tiderulz
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @laserdrill

      Using a hosted service and using the internet to access your own server are both 'Cloud Services". The case Ken is making is, I think, that using a thin server to reach an instance of a virtual server on a secured network is more secure than using a laptop or desktop.

      Ken is right about that. You lose the control and the responsiblity of securing your PC. You gain by having that be someone's responsibility. It works, as long as they are held responsible.

      you lose some control also, by not being able to just use any application not on the 'approved' list, but you have probably already lost that if you work at any government body or mid-sized to large corporation.

      If you must have high security, then do what the Military does. Keep the computer with the data in a locked safe, with restricted access and no network connection.
      YetAnotherBob
  • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

    quote:: So, I?d love to hear the excuses of why your company isn?t jumping at the chance to convert those heavy and expensive desktops to lighter, hosted ones. Please, talk back and let me know. ::quote

    We decided that by going with a Linux based OS it would save us more money, by removing the need for antivirus soultions, and by removing other security hazards, and would keep our data within the company, rather than having to trust that the external source will always keep our data secure.

    Also given that we are a small company and there is really only one person who doesn't really need a full machine running a full OS and applications, it simply makes no sense to pay rent for access to our own data.
    tracy anne
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @tracy anne

      Makes sense to me.
      khess
      • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

        @khess <br><br>I'm happy to see you agree with me, although it would have made no difference if you had not.<br><br>Cloud is really not that different from the Dumb terminal Server based technology I "grew up" with in my early days in IT. The differences are quite minor really. A web browser running on anything with enough grunt to support a browser and Graphical intensive web applications.... the Google or thin solution.<br><br>or client Server infrastructure with both browser based applications and Web Centric PC based clients, the fat solution.<br><br>There's nothing particularly new about cloud services, other than the buzz words, and perhaps the size of the backend installations.
        tracy anne
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @tracy anne
      ".... it simply makes no sense to pay rent for access to our own data. "
      Well said. I totally agree with you on this point.
      And like with a rented apartment with your stuff in it, you do not control the apartment, you are simply paying for exclusive access to it. There are any number of ways to lose that access, not the least of which is becoming incapable of keeping up with the payment. Rent, like cloud service fees, are not under the control of the user and do not always go down.
      laserdrill
      • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

        @laserdrill

        You pay rent on your data even if it's local, if you back it up or store it on leveraged storage.
        khess
    • RE: Control is Highly Overrated and Overpriced

      @tracy anne Given your OS choice you can run your own "cloud", to abuse the market-speak. We did something similar YEARS ago, 90% Linux on the back end. downtime is practically nil.
      piperdown