Regardless of the short-term cost issues, when, if ever, does it make sense for your customers to make the shift to virtual desktops for other reasons? Being able to manage virtual desktops in a central location can bring significant savings, since it obviates the need for IT staff to administer each physical machine in person. But if virtual desktops are created as individual VMs, in the same way that PCs have been in the past, and no other tools or improved methodologies are used, then many of the same management hassles will persist. Installing software and patches on virtual desktops can be just as painful as installing them on real physical desktops. However, there are virtualization tools that allow a single golden image to be created once and then shared and/or automatically provisioned or streamed. These tools can be a management lifesaver, or at least a huge timesaver. These types of virtualization tools are continuing to emerge from the major players -- Citrix, Microsoft and VMware -- as well as a number of smaller companies, and will play a key role in the evolution of desktop delivery alternatives.
We've been fighting this desktop management battle on distributed PCs since the early 1980s. Maybe the time has finally come to win the battle with a strong combination of virtualization solutions rather than taking the physical Windows upgrade route again.
About the author
Barb Goldworm is president and chief analyst of Focus Consulting, a research, analyst and consulting firm focused on systems, software and storage. Barb has spent 30 years in various technical, marketing, senior management and industry analyst positions with IBM, Novell, StorageTek, Enterprise Management Associates and multiple successful startups. A frequent speaker, columnist and author of numerous white papers and research studies, she recently released the book Blade Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs, published by Wiley. Barb chairs the Interop Virtualization track and Virtualization Insight at the 2008 Blade Systems Insight, and has been the keynote speaker at numerous events on both virtualization and blades. She previously chaired the Server Blade Summit on Blades and Virtualization, created and chaired the network storage track of Interop and has been one of the top three ranked analyst/knowledge expert speakers at Storage Networking World. Barb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.