Thursday, August 14, 2008

Virtual Desktop Apdoption Is a Social Issue

I was thinking about virtualization - as it seems to be all the rage. Companies both big and small have made the move to reducing the number of physical servers in their IT departments to save on cost, cooling, maintenance in a bid to save money and appear more "green."

So what about desktop virtualization? What's up with that? It makes sense that if servers can be virtualized, then desktops should be as well (there are several technologies that will allow this today).

If the tech isn't an issue - what's the deal? Why have people (and companies) been slow on the uptake in terms of virtualizing everything?

I think the issues are more social and economic than linked to technology:

IT Folks - They are already overworked. They have tons of "initiatives" on their plate - and with a slow economy everyone is in the "cost cutting" mode. In addition, although they would love to "control" everything - that brings on the horror of having additional support issues ("I can't get to my desktop from this Internet Cafe in Bornio").

Cost - More servers cost money. Getting people with expertise in those technologies also costs money. Updating and/or replacing hardware on the use side - also costs money. IT investments are generally looked upon as "what have you done for me today" type of expenses. Those budgets are rarely increased in economic slow downs - and are almost always frozen (if not cut).

Licensing - This is where things get a little tricky. Just because you have multiple OS licenses for individual workstations - does that mean you can just aggregate them all on a single set of servers? How about the productivity apps that everyone uses (and guaranteed there is someone that uses some weird-ass, one-off app that no one's even heard of). Who's going to maintain compliance on all those licenses? How are people supposed to learn what the license terms are for the software they have purchased. Clearly, there needs to be an industry-wide initiative to make this a standard part of pricing/licensing.

Change Itself - Try to explain the benefits of having a virtualized desktop application to a person that enters orders all day. Or to someone that doesn't spend 1/2 their life on the road. I don't think they'll see this as the automatic answer to all their problems. Why should they learn something new - when what they have (in their mind) isn't even broken (that badly)?

Overall, I don't think we're quite ready for the "Thin PC" vision of Sun. People are still attached to their laptops and are used to having the freedom to install crazy apps (where permitted). With the rise of PocketTop computers (TM) [!] - like the Eee PC and iPhone (and more to come, no doubt) - it might gain some traction.

For now, it seems like a solution in search of a problem to me.

No comments:

Web Analytics