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Desktop virtualization adoption: Three trends that might surprise you

A recent survey showed that VDI adoption is slow among small businesses. See what else it can teach you about your environment.

You may be shocked to learn that a lot of organizations have deployed stateless VDI. Let's review a few other significant trends in desktop virtualization adoption.

The folks at Project VRC recently announced the results of their Desktop Virtualization State of the Industry survey, which they conducted last year. The survey had 662 responses from people all over the world, and the results both confirm some of our beliefs and stir the pot. I want to call attention to a few things that piqued my interest about application and VDI deployment.

Takeaway 1: Stateless VDI is more prevalent than anticipated

According to the survey, 32% of the respondents primarily use VDI in a stateless way -- that is, single, pristine images that are blended with user-specific images each time a user logs in. This approach to VDI deployment is a complex process that requires companies to walk a fine line between storage, manageability and end-user flexibility. In the past we've seen organizations romanticized by this idea, only to bring in VDI and realize that spinning all those plates at the same time is too difficult.

Analysts around the world have used that complexity to explain why the typical VDI deployment isn't stateless but is instead persistent. Persistent desktops are, essentially, the same way you deploy physical desktops. Each user has his own slice of the pie, his own storage and his own VM. There are advantages and disadvantages to each VDI deployment method, but the bottom line is that, out of the box, organizations have found persistent VDI easier to do.

This survey turns that around and indicates a change in the way companies are using VDI. We'll have to see what the driving factors are and perhaps identify new use cases where one makes sense over the other. An additional 36% of organizations had some use of stateless VDI, but to what degree is unknown. It could be that the tide is changing.

Takeaway 2: App virtualization is widely used, but has room to grow

In VDI environments, 25% of the respondents said that they don't use any kind of application virtualization. Microsoft App-V was the top product in use, followed by VMware ThinApp and Citrix XenApp Streaming. I'm guessing that the ones not using any streaming at all are probably entirely persistent desktops, but it could be that they're baking all their apps into the image.

More on desktop virtualization adoption

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In server-based computing (SBC) environments, almost 36% of the people said they use no application virtualization, though slightly more (37%) people said they use App-V. Citrix XenApp Streaming came in third with 19%, followed by VMware ThinApp (5%) and everyone else.

This tells me that there is a lot of room for application virtualization to grow. It is something you can do to better manage desktops, and it gives you the ability to more quickly embrace other methods of deploying those desktops. If you're already virtualizing applications on physical desktops and you want to do VDI or SBC, you simply stream the app there instead.

Takeaway 3: Small-business VDI adoption isn't so hot

Based on the results, most people in large and enterprise-sized business believe that they will expand their VDI usage in the next two to three years. Medium-sized businesses expect to stay the same, while small-business VDI adoption actually looks like it might be shrinking. This could be an indication of a few different things.

Small businesses could just be doing things the same old way: going to Best Buy, picking a cheap computer and using it until it breaks. They could be embracing Desktop as a Service (DaaS) or other managed services. Or, they could have actually tried to roll out VDI and realized it's not that easy to do by themselves.

You would have to work pretty hard to convince me that a small business with no IT staff should undertake its own VDI deployment. DaaS and VDI fit together like a glove (if only the damned licensing wasn't in the way), so I hope this is an indication of small businesses going the route of managed services rather than trying to do it on their own.

The Project VRC survey whitepaper contains information on VDI, SBC, networking, WAN optimization, protocols, server hardware, storage, user environment management and many other topics. See what new insights about desktop virtualization adoption you can apply to your environment.

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