Desktops are alive and well in a VDI World

May 13, 2012 | Posted by Sam Chapman

Many users assume that virtual desktop adoption is directly tied to the demise of the PC.  But many VDI customers, and particularly smaller customers in education and government, are convinced that PCs are here to stay and will be the predominant endpoint device.  Here are some of the intriguing findings that I’ve gathered during my last few months spent talking with small to mid-market users about their plans.

Everyone acknowledges that the cost and cool factor of tablets acting as primary client computing devices is what gets the headlines.  The reality of non-PC device ubiquity firmly took root for me when smartphone shipments passed PC shipments back in 20101.

From this tablet and smartphone-centric view, one would conclude that Microsoft apps are simply a legacy burden to be endured only until all-web-all-the-time-apps take over.  Less expensive thin clients, zero clients, and mobile client devices would logically replace PCs as user clients and importantly, the Microsoft tax on traditional PC use ends.

But after speaking with users well-versed in VDI, the opposite conclusion is holding true– namely that fully functional PCs remain alive and well in a VDI world – although the PCs often become the property of a different owner.   There are three reasons favoring the continued use of PCs in smaller-scale desktop virtualization programs.

First is the reality-check that comes when someone actually tries to run a Windows app on an iPad.  Guess what?  It’s not so easy.  Windows screens are invariably the wrong size, finger taps are not nearly as precise as mouse clicks and multiple windows are awkward to navigate.

Second, while tablets are outstanding and fun for consuming content, they remain clunky for generating content.  Sure, not everyone builds PowerPoints, writes lengthy Word docs, or creates detailed Excel spreadsheets.  However, for those that do, like in educational environments, non-PC devices are simply not ideal.

Third, VDI enthusiasts in education, government and medium businesses don’t want to own PCs at all – they want to free-ride on PCs owned by their employees or customers.  Medium businesses, for example, are offering PC reimbursement programs to meet user demands for flexibility in supported systems while increasing employee satisfaction.  Secondary, educational institutions are shifting PC ownership to students to minimize capital costs, free up lab space, and shift PC maintenance to the Apple Genius Bar.  There is even a creative move to finance and fund student PCs by lumping PC purchase costs into grant and financial aid packages.

Given that the bring your own computer (BYOC) model is truly about saving money, it only makes sense that a cost-effective, VDI solution that works at small and large scale is what most businesses are after

The combination of VMware View with the Pivot3 vSTAC™ VDI appliance is the latest example of how creative users can deploy virtual desktops in cost-sensitive, smaller environments.

Read this ESG Lab review with results of hands-on testing of the Pivot3 vSTAC VDI appliance VMware View 5 VDI implementations.

Lee Caswell,  Founder of Pivot3 and Chief Strategy Officer

First posted 2/15/12

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