After a year of stagnation, it looks like 2010 might be a year of IT investment, particularly where virtual desktops and cost saving virtualization projects are concerned.
IT market-analysis firms predict a spending upswing. Gartner Inc. predicts a 3.3% increase in IT spending in 2010 following one of the worst years in IT spending history. And according to a recent survey by TheInfoPro, a New York-based research firm, IT budgets include optimization projects and a refresh of infrastructure components that support virtualization.
Shannon Snowden, a consulting partner at Louisville, Ky.-based integrator New Age Technologies Inc., said he is seeing "very good growth" in the number of server virtualization projects because the technology offers operational cost savings and resource efficiency.
"Virtualization actually can save companies substantial amounts of money, so it is almost like gold in the IT world," Snowden said. "It increases in value even more in a slower economy."
Rob Zelinka, director of infrastructure at Chicago-based TTX Company, which provides rail and freight cars and freight rail management services, has server virtualization and a desktop virtualization pilot project on the docket for 2010.
Zelinka plans to install VMware technology on the server side -- and possibly for his desktops too -- although he is evaluating Citrix System's XenDesktop. The main drivers for these technologies are "the ability to simplify management, lower operational costs and expand failover capabilities," he said.
The frequency and size of desktop virtualization projects past proof of concept haven't been significant compared with server and application virtualization, Snowden said, but that will change in 2010.
"From our first-hand experience as well as discussions with other consultants and clients, it seems people were just waiting out Vista for Windows 7 before seriously considering desktop virtualization," Snowden said. "That, coupled with the primary software vendor's desktop virtualization product capabilities maturing nicely, should help drive more production desktop virtualization projects in 2010."
Todd Knapp, chief technology officer and founder of Providence-based technology consultancy Envision Technology Advisors LLC, said some of his clients have budgeted for desktop virtualization projects in 2010, and many are rolling out both Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7. "A lot of my clients skipped Windows Server 2008 and waited for R2, and Windows 7 stands to gain a lot of adoption, with [desktop] virtualization as a delivery tool," he said.
Government shops remain squeezed
But not every IT shop has money to burn, especially government-funded organizations.
"This coming year might be the leanest of all, since state government drags on the decline and on the incline of the mainstream economy," said David O'Berry, a consultant and CIO for the South Carolina Department of Probation. "Funds are light right now, and I expect more budget cuts."
The only project O'Berry has budgeted for in 2010 is a revamp of the router and switch infrastructure and universal access control for secure wireless connectivity at the department.
Like many wary IT pros, O'Berry said even if he had the budget for a desktop virtualization project, he wouldn't invest there because the industry still has to prove desktop virtualization benefits far outweigh the cost.
"I don't think desktop virtualization is where it should be yet, and the back-end infrastructure requirements to support it are not light. It's heavy, and people don't consider that," O'Berry said. "[Desktop virtualization] hasn't gelled yet, and I'm not sure it will."
Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.