More About Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

By Charlie Watts, SVP, IT Managed Services, Xerox State Enterprise Solutions

Last month on the blog, we talked about the benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which improves security, management and maintenance by implementing a thin or zero-client environment with a single desktop image. Some other benefits to consider:

  • Reduction in operating expenses. This environment requires less administration, which can reduce the number of personnel assigned to the task, therefore reducing labor costs. Imagine not having to send support to a desktop user to fix a problem associated with a laptop – the user can switch to another device or just switch cables. We can all agree that the lifecycle of a thin or zero client is much longer than the 3-5 year refreshes of laptops and operating systems.
  • Power consumption savings. While a thick client consumes between 65 and 200 watts of power, a thin client uses closer to seven. For a large organization that has about 3000 thick clients, this is clearly a quantifiable, significant savings in electricity utility. “For the Dept. of the Army, this was in the millions of dollars”, said Tom Sasala, Chief Technology Officer for the U.S. Army Information Technology Agency.   This looks to me like cost avoidance and cost reduction.

So there are clear benefits and virtues to VDI, but we shouldn’t underestimate what it takes to get to a VDI end state.

One must be careful to not only focus on the technology, but also on the business.  The technology is there and proven. The next step is to focus on the business side of the implementation – ensuring that we help develop a robust governance structure before implementation begins.  In a Xerox implementation, some of the things we evaluate with our customers are:

  • Are all the right stakeholders involved?
  • Did we gather the correct input regarding the current and future states?
  • Do we understand the end user requirements?
  • What are the different kinds of end users?
  • What is the desired end state by category or tier of users – power users, super power users, casual user?
  • Have we done application rationalization?
  • Can we base line the current environment to make eventual ROI calculations easier?
  • Can we deliver a consistent user experience based on the user tiers?

Bottom line: the cost to implement VDI is about equal to implementing thick clients. However, it’s the longer-term savings where this transformative technology and business enablement come out ahead.

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