Is Desktop Virtualization the Way to go?
Desktop virtualization is now becoming synonymous to business continuity in the cloud computing context, or at least they are so interrelated that you cannot consider one without even mentioning the other. As important as business continuity is for business-driven organizations, desktop virtualization is also key for any business continuity solution to be complete.
More and more organizations are looking at the benefits of this solution not just for business continuity but for other reasons like cost savings, easy and hassle-free maintenance, and even work shifting.
Desktop virtualization is basically the separation of the desktop environment from the physical machine in the point of view of the user. There is still a machine or device needed of course, but it is no longer necessarily in the form of the conventional desktop computer. The desktop environment is being hosted or run on a server and then accessed via client-server protocols by a user device, usually a mobile or handheld computer. This concept allows us to use the desktop environment of the PC on our smartphones and tablets, and allows us to use powerful processing programs on a meager netbook because all or most processing is being done by the server and the client device is simply there to display and send control signals like keyboard and cursor inputs.
So now let us look a little deeper on what desktop virtualization brings to the table.
Here are some of the most notable benefits:
- Global access through any device that can connect to the internet and have display and input functions like smartphones and tablets.
- Most virtual desktop solutions also support local storage drives and printers, while others might use some local processing power like graphics and sound processing.
- Allows for quick integration, upgrade, and change of applications for select user groups, individuals, and globally.
- Enhance security and data integrity plus easy backup solutions. Minimize data theft from physical sources.
- Work shifting –allows employees to work from anywhere there is an internet connection.
- Cost savings on hardware purchase and maintenance. No more desktop computers to clutter up offices and produce mountains of trash during the end of its life cycle.
- Cost savings because of the pay-per-use schemes available only for cloud computing solutions.
The only drawbacks are that it is very bandwidth dependent and of course client devices are never really eliminated, just transformed so there may still be some need to provide each employee with a client device of some sort for uniformity. But these devices can be a lot cheaper than desktop computers, and in smaller companies, employees may be able to use any compatible device they might already own, further cutting on costs. Of course the biggest benefit for the company would be business continuity, it allows employees to work whether they are in vacation or evacuated from the area due to a natural disaster. For the employees, the biggest reward would be work shifting if allowed by the employers. This allows them to work from anywhere and at any time because all necessary applications are data are available through the cloud.
By Abdul Salam
He has recently co-authored: Deploying and Managing a Cloud Infrastructure: Real-World Skills for the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification (Wiley).