Desktop virtualization deployment by the numbers

Speakers and attendees at Interop shared several interesting facts and figures about desktop virtualization deployment.

NEW YORK -- Desktop virtualization is often a numbers game. The percentage of desktops you'll virtualize, how many IOPS those desktops will use and the dollars your company will spend all factor into deployments.

A lot of numbers bounced around here at the Interop conference, where speakers and attendees took stock of figures around desktop virtualization adoption, deployment and challenges.

Curious about stats on VMware's internal virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)? What about the cost of VDI storage? Read what IT pros had to say about these numbers and more on adopting Desktop as a Service, repurposing PCs and keeping noisy VDI neighbors quiet.

77 billion: the amount of app downloads expected in 2014.

Many people agree that the desktop world is already centered on applications. For IT to keep pace with the growing needs of users, they need to focus on delivering the apps those users want, Cisco CEO John Chambers said in the Interop keynote.

"An application-centric infrastructure gives you the best ability to change rapidly," he said.

One-fifth: the segment of the desktop market that is virtualized.

"That's a real number," said Gregory Spence, senior products manager at Samsung Electronics America. "It's a real thing. It's really happening."

This number might surprise you. It's been a long time coming for VDI, but advancements in storage and graphics have made it more viable for organizations to virtualize desktops.

In an enterprise mobility session, Chris Hazelton, research director at The 451 Group, backed that up with some other statistics. Fifteen percent of respondents to a 451 Group survey said desktop virtualization will be a priority for their company in 2014, and 18% will focus on remote access solutions. Still, supporting mobility is the top concern for many organizations, which will have to take on more employee-owned devices in the coming years.

"We still have to support notebooks and Windows, but those in the mobility space, you have job security for quite some time," said Craig Mathias, a principal analyst at Farpoint Group.

41%: storage's portion of the overall cost of a VDI deployment.

Storage in the data center costs more than local hardware storage for physical PCs, said Howard Marks, the founder and chief scientist of DeepStorage, a technology testing and analysis company. So, although deploying VDI may bring savings from hardware, maintenance and power consumption, organizations will almost always be spending more on storage for VDI. That 41% is a huge expenditure, but new hybrid appliances and flash-based storage can help companies use VDI storage more efficiently.

500 to 600: the number of IOPS a single VDI user may consume at one time.

"In VDI, we have to be ready for a user to take up 500 to 600 IOPS because they're running a stupid application," Marks said. "It's the noisy neighbor problem."

The noisy neighbor problem occurs when one VDI user consumes a lot of IOPS and slows down virtual desktop performance for other users on the network. To plan for IOPS consumption, IT should look at peak usage times and determine the supply and demand.

1 GB per user per week: The growth rate of a user persona in VMware's internal VDI implementation.

Even VMware's internal VDI environment has to deal with expanding user personas. The user persona holds all of the user's settings and data, and it can become quite large in a persistent desktop implementation like VMware's, where users can download their own applications and customize the user experience. A large user persona means more storage, which raises VDI costs.

One way to keep user personas at bay is recomposition, Marks said. Recomposition is a process that refreshes the profile and reverts it to a clean, nonpersistent desktop. IT can recompose personas on a regular basis, such as monthly or yearly, but that could anger users that like their customized desktop. Solving the storage problem with flash or RAM-based storage is often a better route, Marks said.

100: the approximate number of virtual desktops Harvard Business Publishing has deployed -- but not in the cloud.

Ken Griffin, the director of IT services and operations at Harvard Business School Publishing, said his environment does application delivery through Amazon Web Services, but he isn't considering the cloud-based model for the organization's 100 virtual desktops. Why? Security.

"If we could deliver DaaS from a major provider, then I would feel more comfortable about the security," Griffin said.

Many companies are hesitant about cloud security, but there are more vendors coming out of the woodwork with DaaS offerings -- even larger ones such as Dell.

No. 1: where repurposed PCs rank on the list of most common devices used to deploy virtual desktops.

When organizations choose how to host virtual desktops, "repurposing existing PCs" takes the top spot among roaming endpoints, according to Samsung in a session on desktop virtualization endpoints. There are a lot of benefits to repurposing PCs, including hardware savings and familiarity for IT.

"This is a huge advantage because it doesn’t add much cost except for whatever it takes to lock down that PC," Samsung's Spence said.

The second most popular device on the roaming endpoints list is notebook PCs that are dockable, making a full workstation for users.

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