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Is your vendor a virtual desktop NIMBY?

Virtual desktop infrastructure vendors say their products can help manage user machines, but how many of them actually use their own products?

One of my favorite non-IT acronyms is NIMBY, which stands for "not in my backyard." The term is applied to people who want only things that won't affect them. A classic example is a person who has six TVs in his house but don't want the high-tension power lines needed to deliver all that electricity anywhere near his property. Or people who want high-speed rail service as long as the tracks go through someone else's neighborhood.

If the technology is as great and as universally appealing as [vendors] say it is, why aren't they using it?

The more I talk to people about desktop virtualization, the more I realize there are a lot of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) NIMBYs in the world. These are the people who will talk about all the great benefits of desktop virtualization, but when asked if they're using it themselves, they'll quickly say, "Oh well, it won't work for me because...."

I guess this is nothing new. It's like the people in late-night TV infomercials who talk about how easy it is to make millions of dollars buying and selling houses. If it's so easy, then why are they trying to sell me a $500 kit to learn how to make money? Shouldn't they be out there buying and selling houses?

The same is true for those selling desktop virtualization and VDI solutions. If the technology is as great and as universally appealing as they say it is, why aren't they using it?

It's about the use case
It should come as no surprise -- especially to those who've been reading this site for a while -- that desktop virtualization and VDI make sense only for certain use cases. We all know that. But that doesn't always come through in the marketing materials.

I'll pick on VMware and Citrix since they're the two biggest vendors in this space.

The top-level desktop virtualization page on opens with "Increase efficiency, reliability, and availability when you deliver desktops from the datacenter as a managed service. Virtual desktops and applications create a more flexible business infrastructure so you can quickly respond to changing business needs." I'm sure everyone reading this knows someone at VMware. Do you ever see them using VMware View? Do they use ThinApp apps?'s main page about XenDesktop opens with "The virtual desktop revolution is here ... for everyone!" I don't know how the company defines "everyone," but I sure know a lot of Citrix employees whose primary computers are laptops that are not delivered via XenDesktop. (Although like more than 90% of its customers, Citrix makes heavy use of XenApp-delivered seamless apps.)

So the next time you're hearing a pitch from a vendor about how awesome its desktop virtualization product is, ask the reps whether they use it themselves. Ask them to show you their own personal work environment. And if they can't show you right there on the spot, ask them why not.

Sure, this doesn't trump the whole "use case" thing, but if a vendor is trying to tell you that its product will be great great at managing your users, it would be nice to know whether it believed that itself.

Brian Madden is an independent industry analyst and blogger, known throughout the world as an opinionated, supertechnical desktop virtualization expert. He has written several books and more than 1,000 articles about desktop and application virtualization. Madden'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. He is also the creator of BriForum, the premier independent application delivery technical conference.

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