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Desktop Virtualization No Cost Saver?

Don't ignore added costs VDI brings to the data center when calculating ROI on a virtualization project, warns consultant in Interop session.

An industry consultant has a message for IT organizations looking to bring the benefits of virtualization to the PC: Don't believe the hype when it comes to VDI.

Don Krueger, principal consultant at GlassHouse Technologies, said that while Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) can bring lots of benefits to the enterprise and to knowledge workers, cost savings isn't one of them.

"ROI is kind of a myth" when it comes to VDI, Krueger said during a session Wednesday at the Interop Conference & Expo in New York.

Krueger said vendors often promise that a VDI deployment will pay for itself in as little as nine months. Hardware acquisition and maintenance costs are supposedly reduced since VDI users can typically get by with lower-end PCs or even dumb terminals as data crunching is shifted to back-end servers.

According to Krueger, that analysis is too narrow because it ignores significant costs that VDI can add to the data center in terms of virtualization software, storage and additional server capacity. "It may be a lot cheaper to keep your existing desktops, especially if they are relatively new," said Krueger.

[VMware View 5.1 attempts to ease storage requirements and management chores. Read more at VMware's New Bid To Simplify Desktop Virtualization. ]

"Anything you have to add to the data center works against you," Krueger added, pointing out that the typical enterprise PC sells for $400, while a typical generic server might cost $20,000.

And while a single VDI server can support multiple clients, those savings can be quickly eroded by license fees. Microsoft, which offers its own Hyper-V VDI technology in competition with rivals like Citrix and VMware, charges about $100 per device for access to the Windows desktop through a virtual interface, according to Krueger. That's true whether the user is getting their virtual Windows environment through a PC, iPad or some other device.

Next: VDI Costs Vs. Benefits Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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