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."
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.