Dell lends a hand in workstation virtualisation

As a way to ensure it provides an end-to-end solution portfolio, Dell offers its customers the ability to trial their proof of concept at its centre of excellence when they virtualise their desktop applications.

Remote access, security, collaboration, and management are the key challenges organisations are facing when it comes to PC workstations, according to Andy Rhodes, Dell virtualisation and workstation executive director and general manager.

Speaking on a tour through Dell headquarters in Austin, Texas, Rhodes said due to these challenges, organisations over the years have had to become really good at creating PC workstations under their desks.

But for Dell, PC workstations going forward will not be limited to being under the desk. According to Rhodes, desktop workstations will continue to exist, but it will also evolve to become more mobile, workstations will be added in datacentres, and more virtualised workstations will exist, which will mean more compute power.

However, moving desktop applications into a virtualised world can be a complex process, Rhodes said.

"I say there's a difference between driving a car and flying an aeroplane. Flying an aeroplane is just only one more thing: height. But flying an aeroplane is complicated; when you add virtualisation to managing that environment, setting it up, and understanding it is much more complicated," he said.

As means a to help ease the complications companies face when they virtualise their workstations, Dell has put in place reference architectures together so it's easier for customers to know what to buy and to build for their applications. At the same time, Dell has initially partnered with application vendors including Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, and Dassault Systems, which enables Dell to certify the vendor application on its reference architecture stack.

The company is also working to Nvidia to help customers understand how to virtualise the graphic processor unit, which is currently available on Citrix but is also expected to be available on VMware by next year.

Taking it a step further in assisting customers, Dell launched a centre of excellence in April 2014 — one in Texas and another in Ireland — to help reduce the cost for customers as they go through the proof of concept stage of virtualising their workstations. Dell plans to open more centre of excellence in Japan, China, and other parts of Europe over the next six to 12 months.

Universities that want to build classrooms without PCs in every room, and Hollywood film companies and automotive companies that fear their works would be leaked before release dates are among some that Dell are seeing virtualise their workstations.

While only 1 percent of the market is virtualising their workstations, Rhdoes said 50 percent of Dell's customers are speaking to the company about it, suggesting that the virtualised workstation market is expected to grow.

Aimee Chanthadavong travelled as a guest of Dell to Dell World 2014.

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