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Reporter's notebook: Citrix Synergy 2010, day two

At Citrix Synergy day two, major themes included how to justify a virtualization deployment, Windows 7 as a catalyst for virtual desktop adoption and more.

At Citrix's Synergy 2010 conference, Eugene Demaitre, associate editor at, reported on day two's sessions. Day one
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sessions covered the status of desktop virtualization today and the importance of change management to virtual desktop adoption.

Day two's major themes were how to justify a virtualization deployment as well as catalysts for virtual desktop adoption and more.

Cost justification. Citrix XenDesktop user Morgan Stanley developed a cost-comparison model to justify its desktop virtualization initiative. "By comparing [the cost of physical desktops] to ... virtual desktops and saying, 'Here's the cost of both,' it came to 10%, give or take, in comparisons," recalled Steve Matthews, Morgan Stanley's executive director. His organization plans to virtualize up to 200,000 PCs by 2014.

However, making a case for desktop virtualization on the basis of lower cost may not work, emphasized Matthews. For example, the cost of physical desktops may not include bandwidth, whereas the cost of virtual machines does.

One virtual desktop technology does not fit all. While some companies' IT environments may benefit from a XenDesktop or XenClient deployment, implementation decisions should not be made in a vacuum. In deciding which virtual desktop technology is best, IT shops should weigh alternatives by considering existing IT infrastructure, product features and other factors. "Some companies will benefit more from VMware than XenDesktop," said Paul Noble,
We'll look back in three to five years and see this as a watershed moment in how computing is done.
Tom James,
business development managerIntel Corp.
senior Citrix engineer at UnitedHealth Group.

To determine best fit, companies should also do rigorous comparisons of virtualization providers based on features, cost, and more. "You also need to consider intangibles, such as training costs for a shop moving from VMware to Citrix," Noble said.

Windows 7 spurs desktop virtualization. Convincing tight-fisted execs and wary users to make the shift to virtual desktops is just as important as technical challenges. But Windows 7 was the "crossroads" in getting people on the "change curve" from physical to virtual desktops, Matthews said.

Management remains a hurdle to adoption. Michael Thomason, the chief virtualization architect at Emory Healthcare, warned IT not to underestimate the management of apps and data. Thomason noted that the audit and trace security functions should be considered just as they would for physical desktops. And Dustin Fennell, CIO at Scottsdale Community College, said keeping profiles consistent is still a challenge.
Fennell and other panelists agreed that forcing the IT organization to change, taking the time to test virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) before moving into production environments, and properly assessing scalability and complexity were things that they could have done better.

Downloads demonstrate demand. In the first 24 hours after the XenClient trial became available, it had been downloaded nearly 50,000 times, said Barry Phillips, the general manager of Citrix's Delivery Center Product Group. "It demonstrated a lot of pent-up demand for the offline capability in virtual desktops, whether for the whole desktop or individual apps," he said.

Has virtualization's moment arrived? "We'll look back in three to five years and see this as a watershed moment in how computing is done -- the entire architecture is changing," said Tom James, business development manager at Intel.

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