Education will be paramount
The underlying concepts of a virtualised infrastructure can be quite complex and it will take time for all parties involved to fully comprehend what the various models can or cannot do and how they can take advantage of new products to meet their own specific requirements. Technical personnel will need to be well trained to fully take advantage of the virtualisation solutions. Partners should take advantage of this requirement and offer high quality design and integration services as part of the solution.
There will be added complexity
Despite its strong potential, virtual desktop infrastructure does add a layer of complexity to the existing infrastructure that might deter some organisations from going ahead in a short timeframe. IT managers will be willing to thoroughly evaluate the technology and determine how it best fits into the existing infrastructure and how IT personnel need to be retrained and reorganised to accommodate the new delivery model. Server and desktop teams might need to be partially merged into a virtualisation team that would manage the new solution. As this is essentially a new product, unproven to the market yet, adoption will likely go through a long cycle of testing and phased rollouts, that will provide time to IT managers to determine how to best manage the added complexity. Partners must be prepared to go through a large number of “proof of concepts” before seeing significant traction.
There are still limitations
Despite progress in the presentation protocols, graphic intensive applications such as video do not work well in a virtual environment where the client only receives screen updates. In today’s world, multimedia is becoming more and more pervasive, specially in areas such as training and videoconferencing. Replacing desktops with virtual machines can create problems within organisations as it could prevent multimedia technologies from being deployed even though they have tangible cost benefits. These limitations are expected to ease in the future.
The security strategy will change
Thin clients are inherently more secure than PCs since they are typically read-only terminals and less susceptible to attacks, but the threat will move to virtual PCs within the datacentre, where security breaches can potentially be much more damaging. Security systems will need to be deployed at all layers of the virtualisation stack: hypervisor, host OS and virtual machine. More specifically, issues around system updates of unused virtual machines will need to be resolved since new virtual machines are created easily but also forgotten as easily.
Offer affordable turnkey solutions
Partners wishing to offer desktop virtualisation should market complete solutions including hardware, software and services, for a price that clearly demonstrates the savings compared to a traditional distributed desktop environment. At the same time, they should offer attractive financing and leasing options that will help alleviate the obstacle of hefty upfront capital expenditure.
Jean-Marc Annonier is program manager, IT spending, at IDC.