June 08, 2010, 1:29 PM — Proponents of desktop virtualization have many reasons to advocate the technology over traditional PCs, including opportunities for reducing energy costs, centralizing desktop administration, increasing security and providing flexible work environments for end users.
But there are two sides to every story. Shifting to PC virtualization can raise new management challenges, require significant data center architecture changes, and introduce costs that can make a return on investment elusive.
Adoption of desktop virtualization remains scarce, although interest is high among enterprises, as many mull an overdue desktop refresh. A lousy economy coupled with disinterest in Windows Vista led many companies to delay upgrading their desktops. Now that Windows 7 is available and the economy is stabilizing, there's renewed interest in retooling the desktop infrastructure including desktop virtualization.
An ITIC survey of more than 800 businesses worldwide shows that 31% of respondents plan to implement a virtual desktop infrastructure in 2010, more than double the amount from the previous year. A related technology, application virtualization, is also on the rise, with 37% of respondents planning implementations -- an increase from 15% the previous year. Likewise, Gartner has found that 33% of organizations plan to deploy hosted virtual desktops in 2010.
With virtual desktops, users can access their applications and data from any machine. Administration can be easier for IT teams, since operating systems and data are centralized. PC backups can be easier to conduct, and some companies find virtual desktops improve business continuity and disaster recovery operations.