Well, the primary reason why you might want to under take a desktop virtualization initiative is to centralize the management of your users’ desktops. While specifics depend on the selected model, the essential driver behind desktop virtualization in all of its forms is to enable user environments to be controlled and managed from a central point. This can simplify operational challenges such as asset management and patch management, and enables desktop policies to be more straightforwardly defined and implemented.
Appreciating Flexibility, Security and Availability
As well as improving the lot for IT managers, by breaking the bond between physical technologies and the applications that run on them, desktop virtualization can mean more flexibility for users. Depending on the selected virtualization options, users can be free to access applications and data wherever it’s most convenient to them, all the while taking their own configuration needs into account. For example:
✓ Accessing data and/or applications from which- ever computer is available, for example including running the work environment on a home PC or Internet kiosk.
✓ Running an application with specific configuration requirements, in parallel with other applications and operating systems without conflict between them.
✓ Provisioning and allocating applications more flexibly from a central point, or allowing users to provision applications for themselves on a self service basis.
In addition, a number of security benefits exist. Better control helps ensure user environments are as up to date (and therefore secure) as possible, as well as offering the opportunity to lock down the applications people can access, through application virtualization for example. Some desktop virtualization variants also build in security features such as encryption of both data and network communications, while permitting data to be held centrally for enhanced protection.
What about availability and business continuity benefits? Virtual desktop environments have a number of failover options to enable business users to keep working should something go wrong. For example, in the case of user state virtualization, if a local desktop or even the entire office fails, users can access their work from other (appropriately configured) machines, including from home. Meanwhile, some desktop virtualization approaches offer the ability to take ‘snapshots’ of virtual machines which can be backed up and stored in case of system failure.
It’s not as straightforward as saying ‘desktop virtualization will save you money’, but it certainly gives you more options when you come to deciding how that money might be spent either by reducing operational budgets in terms of minimized downtime, or lowering management and support overheads, or potentially enabling capital expenditure to be reduced or deferred. Equally, higher levels of flexibility and availability can lead to productivity gains which are valuable, even if they can be difficult to quantify. Of course, you need to weigh such factors against the capital costs of investing in desktop virtualization in the first place.
Desktop virtualization is a means to an end to enable business users to access the applications and services they need in the most efficient manner, both for them selves and the IT department. If implemented correctly, desktop virtualization is one of those ideas in IT that represents a genuine win/win for both IT and users, because both sides stand to gain from the effective delivery of desktop services.
Desktop Virtualization For Dummies®. Published by. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The Atrium. Southern Gate
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