Virtual desktops have long held something of a mystique for CIOs as they attempt to drive down the overall costs of acquiring and maintaining what has become commodity technology -- the desktop computing environment. However, CIOs quickly discovered that the costs to implement a VDI solution that was done right were much higher than initially anticipated and for a number of reasons:
- Microsoft continues to impose a VDI tax for Windows, but that's not the focus of this article since it's not really all that flexible.
- The cost to obtain enough storage to support both VDI-based boot storms and user capacity was far and beyond what most CIOs were expecting. The sheer number of spindles needed to support such environments created a pricing situation that skewed the results in a negative way.
- Terminals themselves were expensive, often approaching the cost of a traditional PC.
- The end user experience was mediocre at best and multimedia was a non-starter.
Over the past few years, the last point has been well address with the introduction of and subsequent improvements to both Teradici's PCoIP protocol and Microsoft's RemoteFX. When use properly, these protocols can provide a user experience that can rival that of traditional PCs.
In the past year or two, we've started to see the third point address, with less expensive terminals hitting the market.
The second point is one that is being addressed now as we see a slew of new hardware vendors -- both all-in-one vendors such as Nutanix, Pivot3 and Simplivity -- hit the market and through the introduction of storage products that hit a sweet spot in terms of price and performance. At VMworld 2012, there were many, many storage vendors relating VDI success stories with customers using their storage equipment. As you may know, VDI requires storage that has both scale and performance in order to counter boot storms and to ensure that end users are provided with an experience that doesn't hold them back. The sheer number of players and the countless VDI stories from these vendors lead me to believe that we're seeing VDI as a growing market.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that BYOD (or what VMware calls SYOM - Spend Your Own Money) is a growing force in IT. When BYOD and VDI come together, IT departments can simply service BYOD users by provisioning them a virtual desktop that can run on just about any device out there. So, we're hearing stories from vendors regarding VDI success and BYOD is pushing VDI to the mainstream. It sounds like the beginnings of something pretty significant!
What do you think? Will VDI ever become as mainstream as server virtualization has?