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VDI and the Asian CIO

Ross O. Storey | March 4, 2011
MIS Asia editor Ross O. Storey discussed the emergence of VDI with NetApp's strategic consultant, Ajoy Philip.


What is the history of desktop virtualization and when did it first start to win traction?

Virtualization was first developed in the 1960s to partition mainframes for better hardware utilization. Today, computers based on x86 architecture are faced with the same problems of rigidity and under-utilization that mainframes faced in the 1960s. VMware developed desktop virtualization for the x86 platform in 1999 to address this underutilization and other issues, overcoming many challenges in the process.

Early types of virtualization used terminal based workstations to virtualize "dumb" client machines. Desktop virtualization has since evolved and gained more traction recently with rapid advances in networking protocols and bandwidth speeds. Today, escalating desktop maintenance costs such as those associated with maintaining data security, migration and patch management, is driving the trend towards a centralized environment.

 What are the key business benefits that VDI can deliver and do you have any case studies of successes? What major multi-nationals have taken it on in Asia?

VDI is expected to be a major growth area in the next three years. According to Gartner, the hosted virtual desktop market is expected to surpass USD65 billion in 2013.

The biggest benefit of desktop virtualization is the ability for organizations to gain control of PC data. Many issues associated with security, compliance, remote access and PC backup are reduced when virtualized desktops are deployed.

Security: Having data decentralized presents ever present security risks. Centralizing data immediately ensures oversight and control over user access and data sharing, which tightens corporate data security.

Backup and business continuity: Reliable PC backup leads to data integrity and better quality of service which in turn leads to improved business continuity and disaster  recovery. Having virtualized desktops ensures that PC data now resides in storage infrastructures that have backups established as a requirement.

Administrative benefits: VDI greatly improves operational efficiency and productivity by simplifying administrative tasks such as patch management and normal application migration. Use of de-duplication technologies eliminates having multiple instances of data that exist on PC images and thus reduces the overall footprint of common files.

Major VDI adopters in Asia include global banks and large government organizations.

 What particular pitfalls should enterprises be aware of when considering desktop virtualization?

To fully realize the benefits of desktop virtualization, organizations need to address the increased demands that virtualized desktops pose on their storage infrastructure and this must be done at the onset of the VDI project. Buying the right storage does not just involve ticking against storage "must-have" features such as snapshots, thin provisioning and deduplication. More importantly, organizations must validate that these features deliver to the level that allows IT to drive costs out of their VDI environment.


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