I used to think that desktop virtualization was going to be the next big hit on datacenter resources, but the more I look at the way people are doing business, the less I think that this is true.
Granted, there is a lot of push from vendors such as Citrix to validate the concept of the virtualized desktop as a business model, and IT certainly likes the concept due to the amount of control it gives them over the users work environment, especially if thin clients ever actually make a serious dent in the market. But what is missing is the pull; there is no end-user demand for a virtualized desktop, even if the end-users understand what that means.
What there is a demand for is the ability to take one's work with them. Think about it; how much business is being done now on smartphones, especially as they've become more competent devices for email integration, not just with proprietary technologies, such as installing the Blackberry server side software, but with email, scheduling, CRM, and the wealth of tools that keep business going. And not ust smartphones, now, as we are bound to be inundated with business applications for the iPad and the slew of tablets appearing in its wake.
For the most part, content creation isn't done on these devices, but content viewing and manipulation has become commonplace. People are able to draw tremendous amounts of data down to these devices to help them get their work done. And to get the most for your business from the ability to deliver content to mobile business devices, you need to focus on the architecture and design of your content delivery network (CDN).
There's nothing that says that you can't invest in the infrastructure for a business focused CDN and on preparing your datacenter to support the use of virtualized desktops, but what you have now is two technologies competing for what is, in probably the majority of IT cases, the same budget money, to be spent in very different ways.
[Between the Lines: HP, Dell tee up Citrix desktop virtualization support]
In its most basic sense, you will need to decide if datacenter money should be spent to change the way that users do the same type of work; moving your knowledge workers to a virtual desktop where they will continue to do the same things they were doing before in a more IT controllable environment. Or, if that money will be spent to enable the delivery of information to your users in a new fashion that could potentially enable entirely new classes of productivity applications that might give your business an edge.
Do you spend money to improve your server infrastructure to support virtualized desktops, or your networking infrastructure, to enable a high-performance content delivery network? Personally, I can see the value in both choices, but I'm not making any purchasing decisions right now.