Believe the Hype: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure made simple

Hype? – With all the buildup around virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, for the past several years, it’s hard not to question its value. According to Mark Margevicius at Gartner, “The promise of VDI is overshadowed by ‘the three C’s’ — CAPEX, complexity and connectivity.”

I decided that I wanted to confirm this assertion myself and took to the road (well, virtually took to the road) to talk with customers. Through a series of webcasts I was able to talk with over 1000 IT folks and ask them: “What is preventing you from deploying or expanding your desktop virtualization project?”

Interestingly, 29% of the respondents replied that cost was the main reason; 21% said complexity, and 20% attributed their inertia to end user reluctance.  Certainly, VDI offers a greater ease of management, better security and greater reliability of endpoint devices, all of which are worthy reasons to upgrade your infrastructure.  Most folks understand this. Dell has worked with several customers who have successful deployed and are happy with the results.  Examples include:

  • ProductivityCaritas Christi a 12,000 employee Health Care company located in reduced client support time by 50%.  They shifted 2/3 of IT to strategic projects.  It used to take Caritas a month to bring a physician network on board.  Now with virtual desktops it takes a week.
  • SecurityHolyoke Medical Center in Massachusetts was able to provide secure access anywhere anytime to its clinicians.  The real benefit was giving doctors 6,000 hours back per year that are now used toward patient care.
  • Cost Control – University of Connecticut (700 user computer lab virtualization project) cost ~ $250,000.  They estimate that they saved $300,000 in client CAPEX over five years avoiding client refresh in their labs. (pending case study approval)
  • Management – A $2.4B footwear company, through client virtualization, reduced DT deployment time from 1.5 hours to 15 minutes for more than 4000 desktops, which resulted in a 600% improvement in management.

A common theme in successful deployments was that these customers focused on specific use cases *(not trying to do too much) vs. ubiquitous adoption.  Successful customers also spent time thoroughly defining the use cases and tied them to a specific business driver.

What’s the disconnect? The challenge for many businesses, as reflected in my survey results for the adoption of VDI is complexity and cost.  For the IT Generalist, complexity centers on the ability to effectively combine all of the components of VDI hardware (server, networking, storage) and software (hypervisor, desktop virtualization software, and potential third party software).  Often, those responsible for provisioning, administration, support and management have little to no experience deploying or managing a VDI environment.

Old cost models are being applied to new technologies – Regarding cost, Brian Madden and Gabe Knuth ( make a good analogy comparing VDI to upgrading to a new car, like moving up from a Pinto to an Audi.  When getting a new car with the latest features, most would expect to pay more than what they are paying with their current technology.  So, why should VDI be any different?  With VDI you are giving users ability to access data and application anytime on any device (like on board GPS), Provision temporary virtual desktops in a matter of minutes (a hybrid gets 50 miles to the gallon), or automate adds and changes across thousands of desktops in a matter of minutes (the thing can park itself).  People I talk to understand this.  The disconnect is that IT is still viewed as a cost of doing business.  IT shops are used to spending ~500 per seat.   As a result, existing budgets and staff levels still apply.  Enterprise level VDI with potentially extra server, storage, and networking can drive cost per seat upwards of $1000.  The bottom line is that, while budgets remain a constant cost per seat (especially piloting a project for an unproven technology – in the eyes of the customer) must be equal to what they are currently paying.

Move Beyond the Hype

Dell has developed a VDI solution that addresses customers’ concern over the traditional costs and complexity of implementing VDI solutions.

Dell’s DVS Simplified Appliance, in partnership with Citrix VDI-in-a-box (VIAB) software, helps remove the cost *(<$500 list per seat), complexity, and user reluctance barriers for pilots, smaller implementations *(think SMB and Education), OR even departmental enterprise.  Dell DVS Simplified solution provides businesses with key benefits that erase the cost and complexity barrier.  For example, Dell can install DVS Simplified in half a day or less.  This is due to a simple wizard driven management console. Set up Hypervisor, create base image, build template, and assign users to desktops.

In addition, Dell DVS Simplified Appliance is integrated with Citrix VIAB software with a tested / fixed configuration PowerEdge R710 Server. This smart integration between Dell and Citrix eliminates the complexity from desktop virtualization. Customers don’t need to determine storage or networking – it’s all included in the server.  Citrix HDX technology is integrated in the product to give users a rich experience from any receiver client.  The receiver can be place on almost any end point.

In addition, factory installed Citrix VDI-in-a-box software, XenServer hypervisor and is fully backed by Dell ProSupport, so you don’t need to worry about the time or resources to manage and maintain VDI going forward.  Dell professional services can provide the IT generalist with a turnkey solution.

So perhaps desktop virtualization can begin to shake its old reputation, and its benefits will clearly outshine its previous detracting factors of cost, complexity, and end user reluctance.  With these barriers removed, coupled with a use case that increases users ability, IT shops will start to see successful VDI projects, and be able to take advantage IT benefits such as better management, increase security, and lower cost.

More information from Dell:\dvssimplified

More information from Citrix

Dell teams with Citrix to offer a simple integrated VDI appliance for every business

Dell and Citrix just blew the lid off desktop virtualization

About the Author: Travis Brown