Is this the year when desktop virtualization "gets real"? VMware thinks so.

I came across the following article in Barron’s today and I think it merits discussion. Financial analyst Louis Miscioscia of Collins Stewart gives some insight into what’s cooking at VMware, and interestingly, the virtualization leader believes that this is the year when desktop virtualization projects will transform from proof of concepts to real deployments.

The main reason for this adoption? The cost of deploying a virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) has dropped so significantly (about 70% cheaper) in just the past few years that it’s becoming a no-brainer from an investment perspective. The writer, Tiernan Ray, does point out that server virtualization deployments have far outpaced this uptick in VDI, so the bottom line is that there is a real uptick in the overall volume of virtualization projects going on right now. Maybe your own organization is dealing with this surge right now.

But as enterprises jump to on the VDI bandwagon, what many fail to recognize is that storage is not only the single biggest cost barrier to VDI adoption, but also the single biggest budget buster. As Arthur Cole noted in his recent blog post:

          In the case of VDI, the reality is the impact the technology has on existing storage infrastructure. For many organizations, the need to shore up legacy systems has been a major factor in the relatively lukewarm embrace of VDI despite its vast potential to cut costs and streamline data operations.

Jon Toigo also supports VMware’s contention that this is the year for VDI and he recently blogged The Next Big Industry Push is VDI, where he pointed out the size of the opportunity – “Desktops are a potentially huge virtualization target: 400M and counting are already deployed” – and stated the big cost roadblock to adoption is – you guessed it – storage.

Mapping out how much storage hardware will be required to compensate for the virtualized environment is likely to make decision makers scream, but it’s an important step. If you consider the option of virtualizing the storage tier with software however, (rather than buying hardware incrementally) in tandem with any new projects, you might find that the cost savings you’re looking to take advantage of actually multiply the further down the road you get.

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