The numbers are in on the move to virtualization

Getting ready to jump on the virtualization express? Not so fast there cowpoke. Take a good long look at these numbers before writing any checks or making any big plans for that trip to the data center.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Those of you who still haven't joined the virtualization fray--good news--there's still time. And, you're not alone. I'm not referring to the much hated Cloud here, I'm just talking about moving your physical workloads to virtual ones. That's right, just a good old-fashioned P2V server consolidation and conversion party is what I'm talking about.

You know, if you've kept up with my posts, that I'm not a huge fan of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). However, I do realize that companies are going to blow a lot of money on it anyway. It's so funny how they don't hang on my every word or take my advice--though I certainly think they should. I'll explain the details of my opinion and the outcome in another post.

That said, and my personal rants aside, corporate data centers are in a state of flux. That's undeniable. Everyone wants to save money. Fact. And, everyone is trying to lower their support footprint. No argument.

And, the proof, is in the numbers from the research report.

Dimension Data announced the results of a commissioned desktop virtualization survey conducted by Forrester Research. The report includes feedback from nearly 550 organizations globally. Some of the findings include:

  • More than 50% of companies ranked desktop and application virtualization as a critical or major initiative over the next 12 to 18 months.
  • Deployment levels are predicted to grow from 27% to 46%, taking the number of virtual desktops in organization from hundreds, to tens of thousands over the next two years.
  • In the shift to employees bringing their own device (BYOD) to work, 20 - 22% of organizations said they’re already providing support for employee-owned laptops, tablets and smart phones, with a further 16 - 21% planning to do so over next two years.
  • Nearly 30% are deliberately coinciding their investments in Windows 7 and desktop virtualization.

Ettienne Reinecke, Dimension Data’s* chief technology officer said, “While only 13% of respondents said they had completed their enterprise roll-out of Windows 7, organizations across all industries and geographies are prioritizing their investments in desktop virtualization. In addition, early adopters are now also emerging from regions other than the heavily regulated industries in North America and Western Europe.

Overall, 40% of organizations view investing in, or implementing desktop and application virtualization as a high priority, while 12% believe this a critical priority over the next 12 to 18 months. However, organizations looking at desktop virtualization as a silver bullet to address desktop challenges must first understand their business drivers, workforce demands and the state of their application ecosystems before defining their next-generation desktop roadmap.

“Typically, an organization will start by piloting desktop or application virtualization to a small group of users and then scale out deployments. The most successful deployments we’ve seen are those designed with workforce segmentation in mind, where the end result is a combination of traditional and virtual desktops that suits the end user’s requirements.”

Organizations are quickly realizing the need to transform their desktop infrastructure. The focus on Windows 7 upgrades, the maturity of desktop and application virtualization, coupled with business pressure to embrace the consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device policies, has created the perfect storm for organizations to modernize their desktop infrastructure.

However, Reinecke warns organizations against pursuing desktop virtualization purely as a cost reduction tactic. “There’s a general misconception that a desktop virtualization initiative will translate into immediate cost savings. This is underscored by the fact that 60% of the research participants cited cost saving as one of the main drivers for desktop virtualization projects.

“Desktop virtualisation requires significant investment in the supporting network infrastructure, servers, storage upgrade and software licensing fees to ensure that the solution can effectively meet business and end user demands.”

Forrester's research confirms what I've been saying about desktop virtualization (VDI)--that it's not the panacea for desktop support problems nor is it a money-saving tactic.

My best advice is that businesses should leverage application virtualization and server virtualization. Don't invest in building up a virtual desktop infrastructure. Use a hosted desktop service, if you're interested in VDI. It's more cost-effective and you'll be happier with the performance. And, send me a check for ten percent of the savings as a 'Thank You.'

Plus you have to tell me your success story so that I can post it here in Virtually Speaking.

By using server virtualization and application virtualization, you can also minimize your desktop support costs by reimaging your personal computers (desktops, laptops, netbooks, ultrabooks) with a lightweight operating system and some cloud-based storage.

If you want to know why I think I know what you should do, here is a short résumé: I was a desktop support technician, desktop support team lead, independent technical business consultant, technical R&D, open source and .NET developer and UNIX/Linux/Windows system administrator. I've covered the gamut of IT in my experience. I've seen everything from the desktop to the data center. I've seen where companies can save money and where they throw it away.

Virtualization will save you money. And, when I say virtualization, I mean server and application virtualization. Let the hosting companies and 'as a service' companies shell out the bucks for VDI. Use their services, which will be pennies a day because of their volume, and go home happy.

* Data Dimension is the company that sponsored the research through Forrester.

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