Microsoft has washed its hands of Windows XP, rendering a seemingly timeless office companion obsolete. In the meantime, companies are left mapping out plans to upgrade to the new standard of OS excellence in Windows 8. The upgrade path leads to unpacking and setting up brand new PCs for some. Others have been forced to rethink their desktop strategy entirely. Several options exist, but companies with limited resources – manpower or space wise – are perfect candidates for desktop virtualization.
Inside the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Desktop virtualization operates on the same principle as server virtualization in that it separates the operating system and applications from the underlying machine. A hypervisor runs on a single piece of hardware, which serves as a centralized platform administrators can use to deploy and manage virtual desktops without ever leaving their desk. Each virtual desktop mimics the same OS environment the user would be accustomed to – complete with all their applications, settings, and data.
The core advantages of desktop virtualization stem from its ability to consolidate and streamline many key management processes. In the ideal scenario, it fosters an IT environment that is more mobile, agile, and secure. Below, we take a look at some of the most compelling reasons to incorporate desktop virtualization into your IT strategy.
1. Fuel For Smart Investments
Investing in desktop virtualization could prompt other sound investments in the near future. For instance, by eliminating the need for physical desktops in the cubicle, companies can arm employees with thin clients or zero clients to access the corporate network. In comparison to desktop machines, these types of clients are more affordable, easier to manage, and have a longer lifecycle, overall making them cost effective investments and valuable additions.
2. Easier IT Management
In traditional IT environments, adding new PCs means adding new management complexities. Desktop virtualization simplifies these complexities through centralization. System updates, security patches, and other vital administration tasks can all be performed from the primary desktop in the server room. Furthermore, administrators have greater control over which apps are deployed, who has access, and other aspects that help keep IT costs under control.
3. Ready for Enterprise Mobility
Mobile devices offer the promise of continuous productivity by allowing workers to grind on the go. The challenge many organizations face is deciding whether to capitalize on the mobile revolution by distributing company-owned devices, or letting employees bring their own. Desktop virtualization supports BYOD initiatives by providing universal endpoint access across popular smartphone and tablet devices. Employees have the luxury to use the gadgets they feel most comfortable with, while the capital expense on company-distributed devices is greatly reduced.
4. Better Data Security
Trusting employees with around the clock access to the corporate network is risky business. Sensitive data could fall into the wrong hands if they lose their laptop or have their smartphone hacked. Desktop virtualization offers a way to keep that information in-house and away from vulnerable end-points. While users have access, the data is physically confined within the walls of a secure environment. All data from virtual desktops can be backed up at the central server, ensuring protection against theft, hackers, and malware.
5. Disaster Recovery Solution
The backup site is a nice resource to have in your back pocket. When disaster strikes at the primary location, it instantly becomes the place employees can go to access their systems and attempt to carry out business as usual. Virtualization makes it possible to deploy multiple desktops in a virtual environment that provides fast access to company applications when they’re unavailable at the primary source. In this scenario, it offers an on-demand failover solution without requiring the financial and physical demand of a backup facility.
Weighing Out the Costs of Desktop Virtualization
The virtual desktop concept has a host of benefits, but cost savings isn’t necessarily one of them. While you reduce the amount you spend on hardware, the cost of software licenses also comes into play. In addition to Windows, there may be licenses for various other applications deployed across your virtual desktop infrastructure. These costs might outweigh the savings reaped from buying fewer machines and connecting cheaper endpoint devices.
Desktop virtualization is not a perfect solution for all companies. Without proper assessments and planning, it can actually prove to be a costly headache. Having said that, the potential to streamline critical IT aspects such as management, security, and disaster recovery makes it worth considering for any organization looking at a company-wide desktop deployment.
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