VDI Brings the Benefits of Cloud Computing to the Data Center


The past couple of years have been an exciting time for CIOs needing scalable IT platforms that are cost-effective and support rigorous security standards. In addition to cloud computing, a currently less-publicized technology called “VDI” is gaining momentum and credibility for those who need similar attributes with added benefits. The server-centric VDI model, which borrows from the traditional thin-client model, can be a great alternative for organizations that want to maintain control of their applications and data in-house, uphold stringent control of operational standards and reduce support costs.

VDI means “virtual desktop infrastructure.” Quite simply, it takes the user’s desktop and moves it into the data center. When done right, resources become better utilized, applications are managed efficiently, and data never leaves the friendly confines of the data center.

First generation virtual desktop solutions were designed to serve up a basic virtual desktop running Microsoft Office and client/server or Web apps, and they did a great job at that. In today’s computing environment, many companies are concerned with the sometimes delicate balance of cost versus security. Besides the obvious cost consciousness brought about by the weak economy, another less-common cost consideration is what I’m calling the “experience” value – the relative ease-of-use of a given solution for a typical end-user. We want this value to be high, indicating a highly usable system. Then there’s the security side of the equation.

I believe that the VDI desktop solution can help organizations 1) keep costs down, 2) maximize the “client experience” value; and 3) maintain data security. VDI can help lower costs by reducing management, administrative, and resource overhead, while at the same time increasing the user’s experience and securing data inside the data center.

Desktop virtualization depends on where the virtualization is taking place (i.e., implemented), either at the host (i.e., data center) via one single image being presented to all users (a.k.a. “thin client”), or at the host serving up multiple images to users or the client workstation running multiple images.

VDI is a “younger” technology that we’re seeing implemented by some major vendors in the past two years. HP, IBM, MS, VMware, Citrix, SUN and various boutique service providers have been increasingly getting into this space. Along the spectrum of virtualized desktop implementations, there have been many successful implementations worldwide such as Sparkassen, the savings banks’ financial group in Germany, which has deployed more than 100,000 thin clients using VDI.

VDI is a proven technology and has reached a maturity level that gives buyers with a certain set of requirements many viable choices. But you don’t want to virtualize without a clear understanding of your current and desired states.

Wondering if VDI might be a good fit for your organization? E-mail me, and I’ll send you a checklist of things to think about before a VDI deployment.

About the author

Jim has in-depth experience in assessing and managing complex IT Infrastructure engagements focused on helping corporations achieve their business objectives. He offers expertise in strategy assessment and development, statement of work, service level agreements, business-driven RfP development, transactions, contract negotiations and transition planning across IT Infrastructure areas and expertise in IT service management integration. Jim has worked with global enterprises in the automotive manufacturing, banking and financial services, healthcare, utilities, aerospace and retail industries, focusing on collaborative techniques with clients and service providers to achieve the desired business outcomes. He recently led the negotiation of a large infrastructure contract with a utilities company and a cloud computing transition. Included in this successful project was the development and execution of the sourcing strategy, assessment and transaction process and project management, negotiation strategy development and financial proposals and executive leadership communication. Jim is ITIL V3 Foundation certified and a thought leader on the topic of the digital workplace.