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Enterprises Will Tread Cautiously Into VDI In 2011

A new survey shows that many companies are looking into implementing client virtualization--technology that delivers applications to end point computers virtually, rather than from software on a desktop or server. However, the survey says, companies are finding that client virtualization is more complex to implement than they realized, that ROI is difficult to calculate, and that training end users can be a challenge. The survey of IT administrators by enterprise technology provider CDW concludes that companies have to conduct more upfront planning and analysis to have a successful deployment.

"Many businesses are getting their feet wet, but not taking the plunge," CDW states in the  "CDW Client Virtualization Straw Poll Report," which was based on queries of 200 IT professionals at medium to large businesses in September 2010. It found that 90 percent of businesses are considering or implementing client virtualization projects, most of them within the next 12 to 24 months. Of those with client virtualization plans, 61 percent said the driver is an expected reduction in IT costs; 40 percent are looking for easier distribution of software; 38 percent aim for increased IT productivity; and 37 percent seek to improve IT support services.

The survey says that where client virtualization is being studied or implemented, it is done so selectively: Thirty-two percent of respondents said they will virtualize some applications for select users or departments; 31 percent said they will virtualize select applications for all users; 15 percent will virtualize all applications for select users or departments; 8 percent said they will virtualize everything for everyone; and 14 percent are unsure. While most IT managers say that they understand the benefits of client virtualization, they still encounter many obstacles when trying to make it work. The survey shows that 46 percent of respondents had problems ensuring that the technology would work on an individual level; 41 percent had trouble estimating the return on investment; and 33 percent had challenges training end users to ensure successful adoption.

The findings echo the results of a 2010 survey on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) adoption done by InformationWeek Analytics, another unit of United Business Media, which publishes Network Computing. Client virtualization is just one component of a VDI.  InformationWeek's survey shows that while 42 percent of companies are testing or actively using VDI, and 35 percent are assessing it, most implementers are limiting VDI to a partial deployment by user category.

In addition, while most implementations have gone smoothly, glitches have occurred that, in some instances, have soured end users on VDI. "There's a 20-point spread between those who say the IT organization is satisfied or very satisfied with the current VDI infrastructure (93 percent) and those who can say the same for end users (73 percent)," the InformationWeek Analytics report states. Also creating resistance to a VDI project among 31 percent of respondents is the higher-than-expected upfront cost of software and hardware needed to implement VDI, although the report states that after that initial investment, long-term cost savings can be realized.