Your Organization’s Desktop Virtualization Project – Part 1

UPDATE: Part 2 of this article is already online here
UPDATE: Part 3 of this article is already online here

I see many organizations going through the desktop virtualization process without being able to answer simple questions like – What are your primary drivers for desktop virtualization? or – How will your organization benefit from desktop virtualization? or even – What is the estimate cost and payback?

Nonetheless it is not their fault. Vendors make it as difficult as possible for us mere mortals to understand and be able to respond to these questions. They try to make the licensing options as different as possible from one another so not even a master in mathematics would be able to predict what solution is more affordable or best suit your organization. Nether less to say they keep changing the licensing model.

What I will try to do here is to give an insight on how a VDI project should start and then each one of the phases it should go through up to the POC (Proof of Concept).

Business Drivers

In order to define the best suite for your need it is important to determine your organization’s primary drivers for desktop virtualization. That could be something like:

  • What Is Our Current Desktop Hardware Needs?
  • How to Increase Seat Utilization.
  • Drive a Cost-Effective Desktop Management Capability.
  • Demand For a More Streamlined End-User Deployment Strategies.
  • Leverage Any Renewal of Desktop Infrastructure To Improve Baseline Security

Business Benefits

Secondly, define how your organization will benefit from desktop virtualization. This is what CIOs and CEOs would like to see in a PowerPoint presentation or project scope. They will base their expenditure decision on operational benefits and/or payback time.

Investment in a desktop virtualization technology will …

1. Lower Cost of Desktop Management.

  • Reduces IT services cost by up to 46%.
  • Reduce power consumption costs by as much as 84%; Contribute to the Environment (Green I.T. Initiative)
  • Extend PC refresh cycles.

2. Rapid End-User Deployment Strategy

  • Quickly and easily provision desktops to clients anytime, anywhere
  • Provides a consistent experience to every user from any network point.

3. Improves Baseline Security of Information and Data.

  • All data is maintained within a central datacenter; Zero data left on thin clients
  • Full, FIPS 140-2 compliant virtual disk encryption; Built-in SSL encryption
  • Reliable desktop disaster recovery plan
    Client Type

Define what type of client access will be used for your virtual desktop infrastructure. Maybe your organization could save some money buying Thin Clients instead of replacing old desktops during a hardware refresh. It is also possible to run hybrid environments or even keep using your old PCs to provide access to your VDI infrastructure.

Some companies sell physical cards that transform your old desktop into a Thin Client.

Thin Clients will provide you with Enhanced Security, High Reliability, Easy Manageability and nowadays they are also Environment Friendly. Thin Client vendors estimate that TCO if compared to desktops will reduce as following.

  • 80% less maintenance/year
  • 25% capital cost savings
  • 23% less to operate
  • Power consumption savings: 30 watts versus 220 watts

Don’t trust their numbers. Make your own calculations.
System Requirements / Specifications

The system requirements should give you ultimately all the necessary information to knock on your vendor’s doors and access their product capabilities. If you have a large project ask them to design a prototype solution for you, if you have a small pool of machines to be virtualized you will most likely have to sit down and design yourself.

Your requirements should be something like:

  • Solution should scale up.
  • Enable multiple VLAN switching for multiple client operations.
  • Authentication should be integrated with Active Directory
  • If the no. of users increases/decreases in a project, automatically provision / activate / de-activate / re-activate the virtual desktops.
  • Architecture should be able to use existing desktops + new thin clients.
  • Should achieve high availability.

Where are the savings coming from?

I would anticipate that when your CAPEX is calculated for the next 5 years after the adoption of desktop virtualization your CIO and CEO will not be very impressed only with the numbers, especially if you have incorporated acquisition of Thin Clients to your CAPEX.

If you are looking for a justification to adopt desktop virtualization you should focus on your OPEX and cost savings coming from Lower Operating Cost/TCO, Power and Cooling Energy Savings and increased seat utilization, when applicable.

Technology Savings
  • Lesser desk-side visits
  • MTBF of Thin Clients are higher
  • Centrally managed – savings on user administration, HW mgmt, SW deployment
  • Flexible remote access
  • Lesser CAPEX/ Acquisition cost for Thin Clients
  • PC Refresh For Thin Client is 6~8 years vs. 3~4 years for desktop PCs.
Operational Improvements
  • Instant on – Thin Clients offer ‘quick booting to reduce wait time’
  • Better performance as it  always start from a “clean” state.
  • Increase in end client security and data
Lower TCO (Savings Up To 46% ~ US$ 67.8K Per Year)

The example bellow assume IT operational costs for 1000 VMware View clients and 7 servers and its based on the Gartner Publication "TCO Comparison" from June 2006.


Thin Clients use an average of 84% less energy

On the same model as above Thin Clients should totalize annual savings of US$ 245K


Other related contents:

How VMware is misleading everyone about the cost savings of VDI
Response to Brian Madden’s Blog Entry about Cost Savings of VDI

For the next part of this article I will discuss…

  • Satisfying Different Regulatory Security Requirements
  • Approach Methodology
  • Single Site architectures
  • Multi Site Architectures
  • Redundancies
  • Server and Storage sizing for VMware View
  • …and VMware View deployment.

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