The many flavors of desktop virtualization

Like everything else in the IT world, desktop virtualization isn't black and white but many shades of gray.

With the industry doing back flips about server virtualization, it is only natural to wonder what virtualization technology can do for desktops . Plenty! With desktop virtualization, organizations can manage desktop images in the data center and employ strict security policies without touching physical devices. Enterprises should be able to cut operating costs while bolstering security to boot.

No one would argue that these benefits are worth exploring, but there are a few caveats here. First off, not all desktops are good candidates for virtualization. Anyone who needs massive endpoint compute power, like engineers and designers, would not be a good candidate for desktop virtualization. Road warriors who need to work remotely are also off limits at this point. Finally, employees anchored to local or remote desktop tower computers may be better served by application virtualization (a la Citrix XenApp or Symantec AppStream) or file virtualization (a la F5 or Cisco Systems) rather than a desktop virtualization play.

When the virtualization smoke clears, large enterprises will deploy a number of virtualization technologies best suited for different types of users. Like everything else in the IT world, desktop virtualization isn't black and white but many shades of gray. Alas, as promising as desktop virtualization is, it is not a panacea and never will be.

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.
 

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