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January 07, 2011


Stuart Miniman

We've seen a lot of technologies that have taken a while to mature which need new names - we had the same discussion moving from "next generation" or "virtual" data centers to private cloud or the similarities between ASPs in the 90's vs the xSPs today.
Simply replacing an old Windows desktop with a virtual Windows desktop didn't seem compelling to many while the opportunity to truly mobilize someone to have flexibility between various work options is attractive to the knowledge worker. To help the end-user community understand the opportunities and challenges better, the Wikibon community is holding a Peer Incite on January 25th - details at http://wikibon.org/blog/desktop-virtualization-reality-check/


I'm in agreement with Stu.

A funny thing happened on the long trek to a feasable VDI solution. Someone forgot to define the V and the D.

Those definitions are what a lot of midsized business decision makers are waiting on. We have been sitting on aging desktop hardware through a rough economy but now that it is time to make a move it seems the desktop we were planning on virtualizing has evolved to something new. For so long corporate use determined what home users installed on their PCs. That time has passed. Users like the way they are able to consume and use apps on demand with their personal laptops, tablets, and phones regardless of the OS. They want and expect the same from their corporate devices.

So before recommending what top level management will see as a bold change to our desktop strategy, I want to see how the V and D get defined. Five years ago the V just meant we were going to simulate the physical environment. Today's definition is quickly becoming "cloudy." The decision to simulate the old standard workstation environment will be driven by your definition of D. Why is the definition of D even tied to the OS anymore? Every purpose of the OS was to allow for the consumption of applications, computing power and storage in a way that was meaningful for business. At the rate at which app stores are popping up and application vendors are moving to ASP models will I even need to worry about the desktop OS layer in five years?

So there is the gist of the problem that I see with companies adopting a new VDI strategy. IT people see the benefits of a VDI solution right now. We can even work the ROI to make it look good to upper management. The problem is that we just aren't sure that the D in VDI is worth virtualizing if we can find a better way to provide for business needs and better mobilize our users.

Blaine Berger
Brian Gracely


Thanks for picking up on my final point about frustrations with VDI and looking at a new approach in 2011 and beyond, http://www.cloudsofchange.com/2010/12/musings-on-2010-and-predictions-for.html. I think the reality is that the desktop has reached a point for a growing number of users where they really don't need anything more from IT than an Internet connection (wired or wireless). They can figure the rest out themselves via apps, public cloud services, and self-service assistance (called a friend, ask a community, etc.).

Here's a simple example that I'd love to know if most IT organizations would beat in terms of overall price, level of service and productivity:

- MacBookAir 11" - $999
- iPad - $499
- DropBox Pro - $480 (2yr, 100Gb service)
- MiFi - $1250 (device + 2yr, $50/mo service)
- Windows license + VMware fusion = $150

= Awesome environment for a mobile, knowledge workers that can support every type of scenario.

= $135/mo over a 2yr period and I'd promise NEVER to call desktop support for anything. In fact, I would opt-out of being able to call them. I'd encourage them to taunt me and laugh if I did actually call them.

The only service where I think IT-Deskgroups would add value in that scenario is a simple Directory-lookup service ("app") if I want to add groups to one of the services.

Would some people argue that data is then exposed outside the firewall? Maybe. But that's both an opportunity (help SPs build more secure services, etc.) and a risk-vs-cost discussion and shouldn't just be a "but it's outside the firewall, sound the alarm!!" discussion. Sometimes disruption to old ways of thinking is good.

The desktop group within IT might need to realize that the kids are growing up and are ready to leave the house. It'll be sad at first when they are empty-nesters, maintaining the NAS boxes for those task workers, but I'm sure they'll find new hobbies and things to do with themselves eventually.

Chuck Hollis


I think EMC itself is a good example of what can happen.

Our company is chock-full of mobile knowledge workers who tend to be technically savvy, there are iPads everywhere these days, which will be undoubtedly followed by a wave of Android tablets in 2011 and $deity knows how many other flavors of devices in the future.

Watching how people use these tablets in a work environment is fascinating -- they're frequently consuming, commenting and collaborating -- in near real-time during almost every waking hour -- in a way that was never seen on smartphones.

Sure, they'll occasionally use a traditional desktop when it makes sense, but -- otherwise -- why bother? If we had good tools and frameworks to measure the productivity-increase-per-mobile-knowledge-worker, I'm sure we'd find eye-popping results.

Thankfully, our IT group let this transition happen naturally and organically. People can opt for the more traditional desktop IT option, or do their own thing with any variety of devices. Self-help is becoming the norm here (thanks to our internal forums). Cool apps and integrations are passed around and shared so it's not hard to always have the best SW on your device.

It's a great model -- plays well with Brian Gracely's comments as well.

-- Chuck

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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