Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know

Ana Cantu, Dell enterprise technology blogger | 6/22/2012 | 12 comments

Ana Cantu
Delivering the right information at the right time to end users takes a flexible and secure IT infrastructure, which can include a desktop virtualization component.

Healthcare is one industry using virtualization to improve efficiency, and organizations in other industries trying to simplify management can look to it as an example. So I asked Frank Nydam, director of healthcare solutions at VMware (a Dell partner), to answer four key questions we've gotten from customers considering virtual desktop infrastructure.

Are there initial cost savings in VDI?

VDI can often simplify desktop management and make it possible to realize both capex and opex savings, but whether or not a company will see initial cost savings with a VDI deployment is very dependent upon their particular use case.

The number of desktops under management, the nominal cost of the hardware and many other factors determine whether there are immediate cost savings for a particular VDI deployment.

If there are no initial cost savings, why should customers consider VDI?

There can be a strong case for VDI deployments even when there are no immediate capex or opex savings. Deployments in the healthcare provider industry are a great example.

Among other things, virtualizing desktops in a hospital environment can streamline workflows and allow clinicians to focus on the patient rather than fumbling with the PC. It can also improve security, control and compliance ways that are extremely difficult to do with a traditional desktop.

Most importantly, all of these benefits can help to improve patient care by ensuring that there is an always-on access to critical patient care data.

From an IT standpoint, how is VDI deployment different from server virtualization?

Companies that have experience with server virtualization will find some things that are similar, but VDI deployments have many elements of end-user and customer interaction that come into play as well. VDI environments are much more dynamic in terms of IT and just about as customer facing as any asset IT will deploy to end users.

Desktop IT staff time will be shifted away from traditional break/fix activities, plugging and unplugging traditional desktops to administering builds, fix, and patches centrally.

How can a customer ensure end-user productivity in a virtual environment, when it seems companies are dependent on the Net?

What happens if the network is down is a somewhat paradoxical "scenario" these days. That is not to say it will not and does not happen though because we know it will.

Hospitals take great care in assuring network redundancy and health, as it has literally become the bloodstream of the hospitals IT infrastructure. This is one of the reasons we are seeing an explosion of mobile devices and mobile care applications. Caregivers demand and require access regardless of location, hospital network access, etc.

Modern VDI solutions in combination with smartphones and tablets really give the clinician always-on access to patient data, regardless of location.

And if you're interested in more issues related to end-user computing, Frank Nydam also shared his insights on the challenges and opportunities in healthcare IT today.

Are there other VDI questions you'd like answered? Let us know.

Follow me (@AnaCatDell) on Twitter for more technology news and commentary.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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DBK   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   7/22/2012 6:35:49 PM
Re: Great benefits but...
Yea when ti comes to life saftey I like to have it in reality, not virtual and I like it hard wired, not wireless.  I also think that HIPPA has some thoughts and guidlines when it comes to life safety too.
Technocrat   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   7/21/2012 4:14:23 PM
Re: Great benefits but...
@DBK  Ah yes, hadn't thought of that at all.  Would you want your life depending on some virtual desktop ?    I know I wouldn't no matter how solid the system is.
DBK   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   7/19/2012 6:04:29 PM
Re: Great benefits but...
for heathcare i think that there are life safety concerns about desktop virtualization.
Henrisha   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   7/16/2012 6:01:36 AM
Re: Great benefits but...
And in the case that the backup fails, have another backup. Ahh, the beloved 'multiple backup' theory that has never failed yet, in my case.
Technocrat   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/28/2012 11:48:27 PM
VDI: Presents Opportunity for IT
...." Desktop IT staff time will be shifted away from traditional break/fix activities, plugging and unplugging traditional desktops to administering builds, fix, and patches centrally."

 

One of the many aspects of VDI that I like so much, hopefully desktop staff will use their extra time productively.  Remember this is an opportunity to break out of the cost center, we are "here to serve" mentality and seek to be the forwarding thinking individuals most are.
Hospice_Houngbo   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/27/2012 10:59:31 AM
Re: Great benefits but...
@nasimson,

You are right about the "single point of failure" issue. But the good news is that when the system crashes it is easier to recover the whole thing when a good backup strategy is in place.
nasimson   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/27/2012 10:36:23 AM
Re: Great benefits but...
I would like to continue your point from here. Bearing in mind all the advantages of virtualization, one could easily conclude that virtualization is the perfect technology for any enterprise. However, with its advantages, it also has some disadvantages as well.

Virtualization Solutions Have a Single Point of Failure. In other words, it means that when the machine, on which all the virtualized solutions run, fails or when the virtualization solution itself fails, this crashes everything.

 
Hospice_Houngbo   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/26/2012 5:53:13 PM
Great benefits but...
Virtualization do offer great benefits including cost savings and centralized way for IT administrators  to manage employees' computers. But it works better for scenarios where many users need essentially the same functionality. It may not work for situation where employees have diiferent computation and software need.
kicheko   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/25/2012 6:00:38 PM
Re: Cost Savings
Zaius, - Its just like having an online based work management system. Every person still has a portion allocated to them that they are allowed to modify from within their account. I've worked remotely from a machine someone else was usinng and i was still able to save my files etc. The only down side is that the other person could have been able to delete my work since he had admin rights. However in our shared case, IT controls the admin rights to protect everyone's work.
Zaius   Considering Desktop Virtualization? Here Are Some Things You Need to Know   6/25/2012 5:44:24 PM
Re: Cost Savings
So does this mean we Are back to dumb terminals? I know they are moibile, but where is the data stored? Who is responsable for it? On my PC I am responsable for making sure that my data has backed up ate the right interval. If I do not see an indication that this has happened I need to call IT. If 5 people are sharing one processor, who is responsable for what? Will it be governed by a mobile account?  How will I check that my data has been backed up or will that responsabiloity shift back to IT?
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