• Windows 7 migration and mobility are driving uptake towards client virtualization
• Providing a quality user experience is the critical factor in any client virtualization deployment
• Various technical challenges, like application architecture, storage capacity and network performance, are issues to ensure user experience
Virtualization is touching all corners of enterprise IT infrastructure. From its roots in storage infrastructure and server farms, virtualization technologies are moving towards the client side. As vendors promote the efficiency that client virtualization brings, interest is also building among enterprises in Asia.
According to IDC AP's report on virtual client computing adoption in 2010, only four percent of the A-Pac IT decision makers named desktop virtualization as their top investment focus in 2009, but that number increased by over four-fold to 17 percent in 2010. Investment focus on application virtualization also grew from 29 percent in 2009 to 38 percent in 2010.
Windows 7 migration
One of the reasons for this paradigm shift, said IDC, is the migration of Windows 7. Due to the less-than-enthusiastic uptake of Windows Vista, many enterprises delayed their schedule for OS and PC refresh, boosting recent uptake of Windows 7. While more new PCs are running on the latest Windows 7, many legacy business applications are having compatibility problems.
This is one of the reasons that Jose Chan, head of Computer Service Center of Macao Polytechnic Institute (MPI) started exploring client virtualization technologies. "We need to provide the latest technology for our students for training," said Chan. "But there are more than 100 applications used for different academic programs and not all are compatible with Windows 7."
A quick fix of the problem is to delay OS refresh for some PCs at computer laboratories and reserve them for incompatible applications and related academic programs. But this would add workload to his small IT team to keep track and manage over 1,500 PCs with different OSs and apps.
"We also considered installing two different OSs, but this is taking up also a lot of storage and memory on the PC to perform well. So, we started to look for alternative solutions."
Pressure on BYOD and mobility
Another compelling reason for enterprises considering client virtualization is the increasing pressure of users demanding mobility and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD). A recent worldwide survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dimension Data reveals that two-third of the 546 respondents experienced end-user interest in BYOD policies. This is exactly what Hong Kong-based Patrick Raths, director of Global IT of global reinsurer Swiss Reinsurance Company (Swiss Re) is going through.
As a global reinsurer, Swiss Re provides reinsurance for insurance firms worldwide and risk management solution for corporation. Business users need to access highly sensitive and critical financial data, thus the company has a very strict security and risk management policy.
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