Opening a Window into Virtual Desktops

“So Lee, do you think it would make your life easier if you were able to remove individual Microsoft Office and Outlook applications from desktop computers, and spend your time supporting a virtual desktop application managed on servers?”

Lee Morris, IT Manager at CoreSite answered (emotionally), “Oh god yes… That would make my life so much easier. I spend more than 30% of my day simply helping people correct configuration errors and application conflicts on their computers. Managing a central image would free me to do far more valuable work for our company.”

We talk about cloud computing, VoIP, social networking, and instant messaging, but perhaps the most important application is silently approaching at a rate that will change our approach to the desktop computer within a very short number of years.

There are many definitions describing the virtual desktop. Let’s take a stab at paraphrasing the definition from about a dozen different sources, and make it easy to understand and develop.

Desktop virtualization is encapsulating and delivering access to information systems, or an IT environment via a remote device.

That information system could be an image of Microsoft Office, a SaaS application such as MRI or SalesForce.Com, or a web-based operational support system supporting customer resource management. The user accesses the information system with a netbook, laptop, desktop, or workstation – but the data and application reside physically on a different network-enabled device.

In our example, Lee can now focus his time on ensuring the hosted edition of MS Office has all required patches, virus checking, file backup, and configurations needed by anybody in the company other than pure power users.

Now let’s be real. We are not talking about eliminating computers. We are not talking about eliminating access to applications. We are talking about putting out scarce Information and Communications Technology (ICT) CAPEX dollars into applications and software development that will drive our companies, and focus less on individual desktops and the multitude of little problems users experience on the desktop.

If we can spend our money on the power and applications of the MS Office 2010 Professional Web edition, giving everybody in the company access to those applications, then we just may have more money to spend on 25″ screens.

Maybe we’ll have a bit more money to spend on netbooks, meeting the mobile needs of sales and non-engineering staff who really just need access to email, spreadsheets, word processing, and the occasional presentation file. Face it, as much as we love that high end HP or Dell laptop, 99% of the time we are using that quad core, 8GB memory, 17.5″ screen display,… for email.

Over the next few weeks we are going to drill deeper into the world of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), cloud-based distributed applications, and geographic distribution of those applications.

This will be a fun, learning journey for the CTC and blogosphere community who does not have the time to read every magazine that comes along, and get our morsels of VDI inspiration in 500 word chunks.


John Savageau, Long Beach

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