As I was driving home from Citrix Synergy in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio commercial that started with the following announcement: "Kids change everything ..."
As VDI was still all-present in my head after three days of discussions at the event, I started reflecting on the theme of this blog, "Virtual Desktops Change Everything", and that spectrum of change goes from the obvious to the subtle. Let me provide a few examples based on some of the excellent sessions I attended at Synergy.
VDI changes software licensing
Most of us are aware of the complexity involved with licensing in VDI environments. However, an excellent session from Kevin Wilson of Duke Energy, "Desktop Transformation Drives New Strategies for Desktop and Asset Management," went deeper into the challenges-not only software licensing, but also the changing processes for managing entitlements to stay compliant and the changing role of desktop administrators in general. The many ways Microsoft Office can be licensed in a VDI or shared environment was eye opening and the interesting conclusion from Kevin was that software assurance has now become more about flexibility in usage rights and less about upgradability.
VDI changes image management
This is also not a big surprise. Dealing with Golden Images, differencing disks, personal disk, etc. is a balancing act, but there are also some positive changes in this area. As usual, Brian Madden from TechTarget's BrianMadden.com delivered a fun, energetic and slightly controversial presentation titled "How to Fail with VDI" (He is a VDI rock star). He discussed how many IT administrators use VDI as an opportunity to lock down images and improve the perceived ROI with the VDI project. His point is that locking down images could just as well have been done in physical environments, so it is not really a benefit of VDI itself. VDI becomes the catalyst that makes users accept the lock down because they receive other benefits-such as accessing VDI via their iPad. I believe the acceptance can be attributed to how virtual desktops are just a way to get certain things done and aren't our personal system anymore. I know this is how I use my VDI today.
VDI changes network management
Now, it is obvious that the network traffic becomes slightly obfuscated via the remoting protocol, but other changes are a bit more subtle. For instance, the path from the VDI infrastructure to the client/server or SaaS applications people use in their daily work will likely not traverse the same infrastructure as physical clients, so additional network capacity and new monitoring points may need to be added.
While it is true that Virtual Desktops change everything, they shouldn't have to include the service levels that are being delivered to end users and the business. But as every parent will tell you -- kids cost more, come with trade-off decisions, force changes in everyday life, and even if you think you are well-prepared, be ready for some surprises.