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Virtualization to save my company money?

Working for a software vendor puts me in touch with many different customers every day, most looking to save money and looking to the market and vendors to provide them with the product to reduce cost.

Unfortunately vendors want a customer to buy their products which makes them biased and not a wholly reliable / neutral reference.

A market was created a few years ago and touchingly labeled ‘Virtual Desktop Infrastructure’ (or VDI) and at first glance looked to be a huge benefit to any organisation struggling with high IT administrative costs and burgeoning desktop sprawl, but does it?

The historical ‘King of the Hill’ was Citrix who licensed Terminal Services to Microsoft and continues to package Citrix as many feature enhancements over MS Terminal Services alone.

Microsoft Terminal Services with a broker like Quest vWorkspace or Citrix is a solution that reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (or TCO) of Desktop Hardware if deployed intelligently, its easily proven:

Maintaining older desktops for users, reduction in hardware purchases

Centralised application servers, no application breakages for end users, lower support

Centralised management, One IT administrator can do the job of many desktop support engineers

Lower power consumption, older machines tend to require less power (to a point)

Citrix Servers are mid class hardware, not beefy very standard servers

For 80% of an organisation user base, a Terminal server based environment will provide all the applications that are required (MS Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet Explorer, financials).

A single Terminal server can provide applications for 40-50 users with no more than 4 GB ram and a modern dual core processor.

For Virtual desktop virtualization, the whole equation changes instead of the above a single server now requires 32 GB ram to support 50-60 users, significantly more CPU cores are required and as each virtual desktop is an entity in its own right, management becomes only slightly more efficient than actual physical desktops.

Energy costs are substantially more than a TS based solution

Administration is no different to individual desktops

Application deployment relies on whatever deployment technology deployed, effectively desktop application deployment.

Hardware costs for the VMware servers are substantial, Ram and multi-socket servers are vastly more expensive than a commodity dual core server.

Substantial disk space is required for each Virtual Desktop client (10-20 GB per desktop)

One day I will do a cost comparison, For the moment the above is purely my opinion, there is a place for Virtual desktops (20% of a user base) where users require custom applications that may have a specific hardware requirement. But in many cases a TS based solution with the RDP enhancements a product like Quest vWorkspace provides allows a full desktop experience for a Terminal server based infrastructure while allowing Brokering services to Virtual desktops and Application Virtualization from many vendors.

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