March 18, 2011, 1:41 PM — Desktop virtualization is turning out to be one of those technologies that have to be approved, configured and implemented very much on a department-by-department basis, not as a standardization policy issued from the CIO's office.
VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and a horde of other vendors have been pushing it for years, and analysts have been predicting for the same length of time that it's about to break into the big time, based on surveys of CIOs who say they like its cost-savings potential.
Virtual desktops, especially the variety known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), are too slow, expensive and complicated to justify the benefit, according to plenty of analysts, but in this case also according to Peter Bookman, CEO of V3 Systems.
V3 is a systems-software developer that just shipped an appliance designed to plug into corporate networks and run as many as 400 virtual desktops from a single pizza-box server.
In VDI, each end user is assigned a virtual machine running on a server in the data center that becomes "their" PC in the same way the one on their desk would normally be. They log in to it using an old, slow PC at their desk, or across the Internet using their home PCs, smartphones, tablets or other devices.
The virtual PC launches when users log in, lets them add data, software, custom wallpaper – exactly as they would on a regular PC, except it lives on a secure, efficiently managed server in a data center rather than a messy, support-intensive PC at a user's workstation.
That's what makes VDI attractive to IT and end users, but only if it runs as fast or faster than the PCs users already have.
Usually it doesn't, due to latency in the applications, operating systems, backend SANs in which the desktop OS images are stored, networks, hypervisors, I/O on the VDI servers, and from nearly every other device in the data center.