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VDI ROI doesn't include hard cost savings

Virtual desktop infrastructure is more expensive than desktop PCs, but the benefits of VDI make it worth the price tag, says Teradici CTO Randy Groves.

Businesses won't save money by deploying virtual desktops; rather, VDI ROI comes in the form of security and flexibility benefits.

That's the message from Randy Groves, CTO of Teradici Corp., a virtualization software company based in Burnaby, B.C. VDI is not a cost-saving technology, because implementing client devices in addition to the VDI software itself costs more than a business would pay for traditional PCs. Running desktops in a data center, rather than on users' devices, means IT doesn't have to secure each endpoint, however, and it mitigates the risks of data leakage. Those security benefits have the potential to help organizations achieve solid VDI ROI in other ways, Groves said.

Teradici's PCoIP remote display technology delivers high-resolution applications, desktops, images and videos to workstations. The company's Zero Client -- which has no operating system, apps or hard drive -- receives this content from the server and displays it on a user's monitor.

What challenges do VDI customers face today?

Randy Groves, CTO, TeradiciRandy Groves

Randy Groves: It is actually more expensive per seat than buying a PC, especially in the early days. It's now gotten to the point where it's much closer, but it's very rare to have a case where it's actually cheaper than a [physical] desktop. It's not about saving money and never has been. It's all about the flexibility and security.

It's also more complex to do. If you put 100 [hard drives] on one server, you need the right amount of storage. All these hyper-converged platforms have come out that have storage subsystems optimized for VDI. That's unlocked one of the barriers.

Is the cost of VDI products preventing widespread adoption?

Groves: If it were half the cost of a desktop, then people would be doing it.

Those [security and flexibility] benefits are all there, but sometimes it's hard for people to make it part of their business case. How do you quantify the value of allowing someone to pull up their desktop when they're home? Certainly, an employee feels a lot better about it, but how do you quantify it so the CFO will believe that?

It's all about the flexibility and security.
Randy GrovesCTO of Teradici

What are some other reasons for IT to adopt VDI?

Groves: It's the proliferation of devices that people want to use. It's really hard to take a Windows app and create an iOS or Android version of it. Even if it's your own app that you have Windows developers for, they have to go learn how to develop in an iOS environment. It's much easier to take the app and run it in a Windows instance, and then access it remotely.    

What are some notable trends in the virtualization market today?

Groves: The public cloud trend is really driving a lot more interest. The virtual workstation is more expensive than a physical workstation, but the operational benefits for having it in the cloud make that one a no-brainer.

What makes Teradici PCoIP technology secure?

Groves: The [PCoIP] Zero Client doesn't have an operating system. Most of the other desktop devices are either Windows or Linux, which have to be patched. That endpoint can get compromised. The thing that's out in the wild that you really can't control, because it's at somebody's desk or house, we make it highly secure [with] full [advanced encryption standard] encryption.

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