Virtual desktop technology has affected the IT industry in a variety of ways. Although remote users and large common desktop environments are involved, one industry driver encompasses all use cases: the upgrade and rollout of Windows 7.
Many organizations still run Windows XP because they feel Windows Vista is not a better desktop operating system. As a result, consumers and corporations aren't buying PCs with enough performance for Vista, stalling the makers of desktop and laptop PCs. Therefore, most enterprises are unable to deploy or support Windows 7 to their desktop environments.
This is where desktop virtualization comes into play. With the creation of virtual desktop software by VMware, Citrix and other vendors, corporations that in the past would have had to replace hundreds -- if not thousands -- of desktops can continue using those same PCs as makeshift thin clients.
This can provide an immediate financial benefit. While a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is not always a capitalized cost saving, in the case of Windows 7 rollouts, there can be a minor cost savings associated with a capital expenditure.
In addition, there are many advantages beyond cost. Enterprises can save a lot of time in deploying Windows 7. Instead of having to reimage all desktops or laptops, an organization can create, test and deploy a virtual desktop with Windows 7 in hours or even minutes. If all desktops were to be upgraded or reimaged to Windows 7, the days or weeks of just testing the image and the installation/upgrade process are reasons enough to move to VDI.
If you don't care about cost savings and don't believe in the potential operational savings from virtualization deployment, there is yet another reason to migrate to Windows 7 in a VDI environment: the opportunity to take a step toward cloud computing.
I'm certain that VDI is a cloud-enablement technology. In this case, I'm basing my definition of "cloud" on the private cloud, so moving to VDI means that you will be creating a Desktop as a Service-style offering, which is one of the first forms of cloud computing. This is where the Windows 7 deployment can take you into the future architectures of IT.
When you look at deploying Windows 7 in your organization, make sure that you do your due diligence before choosing among the virtual desktop technologies. Analysts have predicted that many millions of desktops will need to be replaced, and with the advent of great technologies such as VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop and others, VDI is not just the future -- it is now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brad Maltz is CTO of International Computerware, a national consulting firm focused on virtualization and storage technologies. He holds certifications from VMware and EMC for many technologies. Maltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, comments or suggestions.