Let’s talk about VDI

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This article appeared in the 21st July, 2008 issue of CRN magazine.

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Let’s talk about VDI
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The launch of VMware’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has revitalised interest in the thin client computing concept, however, desktop virtualisation is still in its infancy. Traditional thin-client vendors Citrix and Microsoft; as well as new kid on the block VMware, are talking VDI up for all it’s worth but thin client has always been a tactical solution for most organisations (see box out). It remains to be seen if VDI will be the same or if it will gain mainstream acceptance; but if you talk to three people in the IT industry about what impact VDI has had or will have on business, you’re likely to get four opinions.

Citrix area vice president Australia and New Zealand, Rob Willis, is not unsurprisingly enthusiastic about the possibilities for VDI.

“A lot of people are revisiting the desire to have a thinner device on the desktop to reduce power and make it easier to manage while providing a fully functional desktop. It’s also being looked at by people who are looking to put the desktop in a remote location like offshore, a country town, another city, but keeping the data, applications etc. in a centralised location. So particularly companies that are moving things offshore are very interested in the ability to keep it all local, manage it all local but deliver it offshore.”

Getronics Microsoft solutions manager, Brett Lightfoot, is a passionate advocate for the possibilities of VDI. “Just recently I experienced accessing a powerful ERP system hosted on the other side of the world from a mobile PDA-style device. At that point I realised that these technologies really do have an amazing ability to change the way we all work.”

IBM’s sales manager for x server business in Asia Pacific, Peter Hedges, is extremely upbeat about the possibilities for VDI. “There are some amazing new technologies around virtualising applications on the desktop such as having virtualised applications running in a shell, which is great for organisations that want to have on demand applications but don’t want to do all the packaging and distribution.”

When talking about where VDI is right now, Gen-i virtualisation specialist, Safi Obeidullah, is more circumspect. “Desktop virtualisation is still in its infancy and is slowly gaining momentum on the back of the server virtualisation wave. Along with major players, Citrix and VMware, there are a number of companies starting to play in this space. I think it is still early days and while we may see tactical deployments it will still be another 12 months or so before we see mainstream adoption.”
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