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Virtual desktops

Virtual desktops

"The rubber still isn't hitting the road in terms of good case studies or compelling reasons why users are going to fall over themselves." - itX's Greg Newham

"The rubber still isn't hitting the road in terms of good case studies or compelling reasons why users are going to fall over themselves." - itX's Greg Newham

Dipping a toe in the water

While attendees were keeping their cards close to the chest, several integrators at ARN’s recent virtual desktop round table said their clients were piloting virtual desktop environments.

Datacom’s Mark Mackaway pointed to the benefits of centralisation as a key driver.

“Grunty applications tend to have large back ends that require support and it’s usually a lot quicker to get data from the back end to the virtual desktop,” he said. “We have customers looking at blade workstations for that extra level of power and control but it’s still managed under the virtual desktop broker and distributed under the same mechanism.”

Extending that point, Sonnet’s Frank Mulcahy said the virtual desktop model allowed greater flexibility because a user that needed more power could have it supplied on demand from the datacentre.

Wyse’s Ward Nash pointed to Flight Centre, which has 27,000 thin clients connected to Citrix, as a leading example of how market perception was changing but said banks and government departments were still reluctant to say what they’re doing. Sonnet’s Mulcahy suggested banks’ reluctance to talk about virtual desktop deployments was largely because this would force them to admit they were using it to go offshore but IBRS analyst, Kevin McIsaac, said they were still using it exclusively in very small pockets.

“It’s a niche application for security, temporary desktops and occasionally six-star buildings transferring heat into the datacentre but it does not reduce overall heat footprint,” he said. “The whole thing about reduced cost is a furfy because costs are roughly the same as a well-managed, full desktop environment. There’s a massive hit upfront and you may or may not get savings 3-4 years down the track – it’s a huge risk.”

Citrix’s Toby Knight said one of the biggest challenges large customers were trying to solve around their desktop environments was around moving, adding and changing desktops. He cited one company that had 8,000 users and made the same number of move, add changes in a year.

“They’ve got a well-managed environment with the best system management tools in place and it still takes them 4-6 hours to do a move, add, change today. It doesn’t happen instantaneously,” he said. “The second biggest thing we’re looking at – and I’m talking to two or three leading organisations in Australia – about moving 30 per cent of their workforce outside of the four walls and tapping into the skills of user groups like stay-at-home mums. Using a traditional delivery mechanism around a distributed PC, they just can’t get access to those people. It also reduces the amount of property and other overheads.

“We are working with these guys on niche deployments today to prove the technology but the conversations we’re having are about broad adoption. The technology still needs to mature before it goes mainstream but it’s not a six-month conversation; it’s a 2-3 year conversation.”


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