By Jeff McNaught, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Director of Marketing, Dell Cloud Client Computing
You've adopted server and storage virtualization, but didn't think of virtualizing your desktops. Here's why you should.
In recent years, IT managers have embraced server and storage virtualization, but hesitate with desktop virtualization. Concerns include up-front investment, implementation and perceptions of performance and security risks. However, IT managers who adopt desktop virtualization realize long-term benefits including stronger security protection, reduced maintenance costs, and increased flexibility and productivity.
Desktop virtualization differs from server and storage virtualization in key respects. Server virtualization divides computing capabilities for multiple uses within one physical server. Similarly, storage virtualization pools physical storage from multiple storage services. With desktop virtualization, there’s no consolidation of multiple users onto one desktop. Rather, desktop virtualization transfers content from your PC’s HDD to the server. The server hosts the desktop on various PCs, tablets, smartphones and thin clients, enabling anywhere, anytime connectivity. The enhanced security and ease of maintenance in server virtualization can be applied to desktops. Application and data can be stored centrally rather than on local desktops, meaning you can log into any device and access all of your content wherever you go.
Users enjoy a range of hardware devices suited to them. They can choose from three basic types of clients optimized for a virtual desktop environment. The first is the traditional thin client--a diskless, stateless device connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. The thin client requires a constant, reliable server connection because computing is actually performed on the server.
Another configuration, the cloud PC, operates an OS and applications locally, which saves space with a smaller data center while providing a full PC experience (without HDD storage). This provides performance, image management and security—ideal for local, remote or branch offices.
Finally, a newer type of client, called a “zero client,” is fully optimized for particular environments, like supporting specific back-end systems, and includes a fraction of the local software of a thin client (but resist “hardware only” designs, as they can’t adapt to change). This device is compatible with Citrix, Microsoft or VMware configured servers—widely used products that provide excellent user experience, security and back-end support.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the key benefits of desktop virtualization that address issues currently facing organizations.
· Windows migration: Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8 typically means that every desktop needs to be individually configured. That means lengthy downtime for each employee or costly new devices.
Alternatively, you can put your desktop in your company's internal cloud, with content loaded in one place. The desktops can simultaneously load the virtual Windows 7/8 environment in a matter of seconds, rather than weeks or months through a traditional refresh.
· Improved performance: The new clients pack the latest in computing technology despite being compact – making them ideal for tight corners or service desks, where space is at a premium – without sacrificing performance. Dell Cloud Client Computing now offers the industry’s first quad-core thin client, delivering the highest performing device on the market. Plus, they draw less than 20 watts of power (most under eight), compared with 100 watts or more for a traditional desktop or laptop.
· Extreme portability: Some devices can be the size of an oversized USB thumb drive. Dell Cloud Client Computing’s Project Ophelia, provides a rich thin client experience on any screen with a device slightly larger than a thumb drive.
· The need for security: Industries such as banking and finance, government, healthcare, education and retail all need to secure personal information. Centralizing data storage in a data center instead of scattered around various devices provides ease of security management.
· Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Companies need to embrace BYOD. One of the thorny issues of BYOD is company data accessed and stored on personal devices. Desktop virtualization means apps and data are never loaded onto personal laptop, tablet or smartphone, just displayed on it. By storing everything on the server, you can enable each device to have a high-fidelity connection to use those apps without putting it on an employee's personal hardware.
· “Move it all to the cloud”: Additionally, apps and content device management and virtual desktop technology can be moved into the cloud as well. The whole desktop experience can be offered “as a service” by providing users with endpoint devices. Dell Cloud Client Computing is already a leader in offering desktops-as-a-service, and device and user management-as-a-service.
Adopting desktop virtualization may require a great deal of consideration before taking the plunge, but it can tremendously benefit all company stakeholders. Desktop virtualization can relieve IT teams from time-consuming administrative tasks and alleviate security concerns so they can focus on adding business value, rather than maintenance. End users gain productivity and flexibility through connecting to the network from anywhere using the device of their choice. Needless to say, increased IT efficiency and workforce productivity are bound to yield excellent business results, making desktop virtualization a true win-win for everyone.
Jeff McNaught co-invented and spearheaded the development of the award-winning Wyse Winterm thin clients, the first enterprise thin clients to ship in volume, now with millions of units in use worldwide. At Wyse since 1987 until Dell acquired the company in 2012, he is widely considered to be the most quoted spokesperson for thin clients, and is also considered an authority on cloud computing green IT and desktop virtualization. Previously, Jeff held positions at ITT, Netexpress, Tandy, and Cromemco and earned his master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.