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Come on down! The VDI price is finally right

Three ways to deliver VDI cost savings

Desktop virtualization has become more affordable, but its price is still a top concern. IT can achieve VDI cost savings by choosing the right hardware and software.

There is nothing cheap about a VDI deployment, so it makes sense to trim costs wherever possible.

Not all that long ago, VDI was primarily known for one thing -- its exorbitant price tag. In the past few years, VDI has become more cost-effective, especially when you look at the total cost of ownership. IT departments should still consider these strategies for achieving VDI cost savings, however.

Choose the right client device

One of the best techniques for reducing VDI costs is to select the right client hardware. Many organizations repurpose old PCs as thin clients. The rationale is that this approach saves money because organizations already own the devices.

Repurposing old PCs saves money in the short term, but it usually costs more in the long term because each PC still requires an operating system and all of the maintenance work that goes with it. The help desk staff will still have to deploy patches, keep antimalware applications up to date and replace failed hard disks, just as they would if the company had never implemented VDI.

A better option might be to use Google Chromebooks as thin clients. Such devices are ideal because nearly all of the ongoing maintenance is automated. Even though an organization will spend more money upfront, the reduced maintenance costs can result in substantial VDI cost savings over the long term.

Consider hyper-converged infrastructure

Another way to cut VDI costs is to deploy on hyper-converged infrastructure. Many hyper-converged infrastructure vendors have specifically designed their systems for VDI.

One of the big advantages is that hyper-converged infrastructure can save organizations money through bundling. Just as a consumer might be able to save money by bundling phone, internet and cable service, organizations may be able to save some money by bundling storage, compute and network resources, in addition to virtualization and management software.

Hyper-converged infrastructure can save organizations money through bundling.

Some hyper-converged systems include software that automates VDI deployment, which can deliver further savings. Automated VDI deployments are less susceptible to performance and support issues than those that IT manually configures.

Organizations should also consider spending more money to buy high-end hyper-converged systems. This approach might seem counterproductive because the goal is to reduce VDI costs, but there is a method to this madness.

Hyper-converged infrastructure supports linear scalability through the use of nodes. Administrators can add capacity at any time simply by installing extra nodes. Purchasing high-end nodes upfront can improve the per-node virtual desktop density, however, which may prove to be less expensive than buying more nodes to accommodate additional workloads later. The return on investment here depends on each organization's capacity needs and each vendor's unique pricing.

Consider using open source

Organizations can also realize VDI cost savings by buying open source hypervisors and desktop operating systems instead of their proprietary counterparts. This approach isn't viable for everyone because an organization may need applications that won't run on open source operating systems. Similarly, an organization may have security, support or compliance concerns that open source technology cannot address.

It is also important to remember that there is no rule that says that VDI has to completely replace traditional network endpoints. A great way of reducing VDI costs is to implement the technology where it makes sense to do so and allow everyone else to continue using traditional endpoints.

Next Steps

Cloud desktops can help save money on VDI.

Storage configuration planning plays a big part in VDI's overall cost.

Read the ultimate guide to calculating VDI ROI.

This was last published in August 2016

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