Microsoft follows virtualization from the server to the desktop

Microsoft's Dave Greschler says that value-added resellers need to be ready for desktop virtualization, following mobile users rather than worrying about possible cost benefits.

Dave Greschler is Microsoft's go-to guy for virtualization -- server, desktop, application. As the company prepares the next version of its Hyper-V server virtualization, Greschler, Microsoft's director of integrated virtualization, talked to Barbara Darrow, senior news director at TechTarget, about what value-added resellers need to know about Microsoft's virtualization plans and products.

Before joining Microsoft, Greschler co-founded Softricity, the developer of SoftGrid application virtualization products.

We keep hearing that desktop virtualization is coming. Is this going to be like the 'year of the LAN,' which took 15 years to get here?

Dave Greschler: If you look at server virtualization, the benefits and return on investment is so blatant: You turn it on, and you immediately go from 80 servers to 20 servers.

The benefits are absolutely there, but it takes a while to see them
Dave Greschler on virtual desktops,

Desktop virtualization is more subtle. You're not reducing the number of desktops, but [easing] management is less tangible than hardware reduction, energy reduction.

The benefits are absolutely there, but it takes a while to see them. ... Once [enterprises have] done app virtualization, they realize, "I can push out to 10,000 desktops and not worry about 5,000 help desk calls." You push it out, it installs, and you're done.. ... I'd argue [that potential] cost savings are perhaps more significant. You deploy an app once but update it many times.

You have to ask, Do you mean VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] or virtualizing a desktop to a data center and doing a screen scrape? Or rolling out to a rich client or encapsulating a desktop? Is it Citrix or Terminal Services? The desktop has many more requirements. Our way to capture this is to talk about user-centric computing. ... Your desktop should follow you no matter where you are.

If you start with the problem: "How can I get people's apps and resources to them wherever they are in this mobile world?"

[For example,] what if I thought of Dave's machine at work or at home, or him traveling without a machine and he has to use a friend's machine -- how do I make it so Dave's apps, data and, more important, user settings follow him? ... Desktops are infinitely more complex to manage than servers.

The VAR opportunity is coming at it from user-centric computing. Instead of saying, "I'm going to virtualize your desktop," it's a step toward creating profitable practice.

For our partners out there, [we're] coming to customers and looking at it as, "We want to move you from machine-centric to user-centric, be more agile and responsive, and cut costs."

Can you go through some of the user scenarios and what's appropriate?

Greschler: [You have to think] about the best possible way to deliver resources, given their situation, and working to build the right stack to do that -- app virtualization product, Remote Desktop Services and System Center Configuration Manager.

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There's a lot in the next Configuration Manager that deals with those issues, tied to Active Directory and data transmitted back to configuration manager to determine bandwidth, device and security levels to find that right mix to deliver the correct desktop [in each user scenario]. This includes whether you're at an Internet kiosk where you really don't want your data [flowing] down, [or] you want to run in Remote Desktop Services or potentially VDI ... and just run graphics.

But it can also be a mix. In hospitals, a nurse or doctor needs some apps running locally. [They may be] graphically intense but [there may also be some] databases where because of [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], you need to keep them off the network. Confusing is the opportunity.

This was first published in May 2010

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