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Three reasons to virtualize your desktops in 2009

Vendor spin aside, here are the real reasons we are talking about desktop virtualization today.

Vendors who sell desktop virtualization would like you to think that everyone should virtualize all of their desktops -- as soon as possible. They throw out lists of desktop virtualization advantages that look like the following:

  • More agility
  • More manageability
  • Business continuity
  • Lower costs
  • Increased security
  • Faster installs/adds/moves/changes
  • Easier access to applications
  • Virtualization is the future

Do you ever look over a list like this and think they're total hogwash? Does this list look too generic or abstract for you to go to your boss to get real approval to start doing desktop virtualization today? If you cut the vendor spin, there are three "real" reasons, like them or not, that we're talking about desktop virtualization in 2009.

Reason #1: Virtualization is trendy
In a recent column, I wrote that desktop virtualization and server virtualization were not at all the same thing. Unfortunately for us in the desktop space, because server virtualization is so hot right now, many vendors, consultants and managers want to virtualize everything. While this is the wrong reason to virtualize your desktops, the reality is that in 2009 we're talking about desktop virtualization simply because it has the word "virtualization" in the name and virtualization is hot right now.

Reason #2: Vista is a disaster
Nothing more has to be said about Vista in general. But in the context of desktop virtualization, the fact that so many companies are still on Windows XP and plan to skip Vista is important. Most people realize that desktops are evolving. Even if they don't go down the full VDI path, they will at least do something "different" in moving forward.

Well if all the current desktops are Windows XP, there's no sense virtualizing your desktops just to end up with XP again. And when Windows 7 launches, there's no sense migrating to it while still managing your desktops the "old" way. So even though Windows 7 doesn't have any specific features that will make people want to virtualize it, it will end up being a catalyst for desktop virtualization. So in the context of "Why now?" for desktop virtualization, Windows 7 will play a big part. More on this at

Reason #3: The economy is in shambles
Finally, we have to consider the economy. For the past 15 years, most companies did not have any sort of formal desktop management strategy. Well, nothing beyond, "Call Dell or HP and order another pallet of whatever the cheapest PCs are." But now that budgets are tight, companies are trying to save money every way they can. So if virtualizing desktops leads to a lower TCO than traditional desktops, the desire to save money will certainly influence peoples' decisions to go down that path. Of course there's no guarantee that virtualizing desktops will actually save money, but it's a big part of the marketing messages, which means it's the third and final "real" reason we're talking about this in 2009.

So there you have it. Like it or not, these are the real reasons we're having these conversations today, even though most of us have not gone down the desktop virtualization path yet.

Brian Madden, Independent Industry Analyst and Blogger
Brian Madden is known throughout the world as an opinionated, super technical, fiercely independent desktop virtualization expert. He's written several books and over 1,000 articles about desktop and application virtualization. Brian's blog,, receives millions of visitors per year and is a leading source for conversation, debate and discourse about the application and desktop virtualization industry. Brian is also the creator of BriForum, the premier independent application delivery technical conference.

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