Top 5 reasons to consider VDI in 2011

Next-generation virtual desktop infrastructure solutions are making the move to VDI an easier pill to swallow

If you're considering implementing a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in your environment in 2011, you're not alone. The current install base of VDI deployments is still relatively small, but double-digit growth figures are expected as desktop virtualization technology matures and the market continues to transition from niche to mainstream.

According to Gartner, the worldwide hosted virtual desktop market will accelerate through 2013 to reach 49 million units, up from around 500,000 units in 2009. Revenue is predicted to grow from about $1.5 billion in 2009 to $65.7 billion in 2013, a number that is equal to more than 40 percent of the worldwide professional PC market. That's a pretty big undertaking.

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Organizations are anticipating the flexibility, efficiency, and other benefits VDI will bring, enabling administrators to manage desktops from a central location and providing end-users the ability to access their environments remotely from any location. But if the VDI market is going to live up to Gartner's expectations, these organizations will have to start kicking things into high gear. So what are the five key reasons to consider a VDI initiative in 2011?

1. Windows 7 migration
Let's face it, Microsoft Windows 7 isn't perfect, but it's a significant improvement over Vista and XP, and the entire world has been waiting for something new to move to. This pent-up demand is driving organizations of all sizes to invest in moving to Windows 7. But the migration can prove to be very expensive -- new hardware, new training, compatibility testing with legacy applications, side-by-side environments during a transition period, and so on -- and some organizations just can't afford the move using traditional methods. In these challenging economic times, companies are looking for the most cost-efficient way to make the move. No one wants to be that person who has to explain to their boss why they just spent twice as much as a competitor because they didn't take the time to look at modern virtualization solution alternatives.

Jim Curtin, president and CEO of Virtual Bridges, is no stranger to VDI or the Windows 7 migration process. Curtin has spoken to many of his customers who are going up against this very challenge, and he offered the following thoughts: "Virtualization can save on buying new desktops, it can allow you to run in parallel on existing machines, it can allow you to enable users with the check of a box -– and it can do it at a fraction of the budget. But you need to be sure and use a Gen2 solution, or you might not get the savings you are expecting... and that wouldn’t make your boss happy either."

2. Workforce mobility
Mobility and accessibility are major driving forces today; people everywhere are on the go and convenience is key. When you separate the software (OS, applications, and data) from the PC hardware, the hardware becomes an access device capable of connecting you to that software. It's not just PCs anymore -- any device can seemingly access your information or your desktop.

"We are seeing a fundamental and profound shift in technology where the desktop now lives in a data center (or 'the cloud') instead of on the machine on your desktop," said Curtin. "This desktop now appears on pretty much any device with connectivity to the Internet. A virtual desktop, accessible from iPads, phones, thin clients, laptops, home computers, work computers, kiosks, business centers... anywhere."

Dave Bartoletti, a senior analyst with the Taneja Group, agreed this was a major driving factor, adding, "The workspace of the future will look a lot more like a smartphone/tablet than the traditional PC, with applications driving infrastructure choices. Rather than virtualizing a Windows environment for each user, more and more companies are looking to deliver some applications via secure browser or service provider (in an SaaS model) and others via a hosted Windows desktop -- the good news is you can mix and match these solutions with technology from many major players and new, innovative startups."

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