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Year In Review: VDI Explosion Coming Soon To A Desktop Near You

Toward the end of 2010, Gartner reported that more than 80% of enterprises have a virtualization program or project, and it joined a veritable army of research companies and vendors predicting that the desktop would be virtualized via solutions such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or hosted virtual desktops (HVDs). However, according to a CDW survey, 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.

Still, CDW found that 90% 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% said the driver is an expected reduction in IT costs; 40% are looking for easier distribution of software; 38% aim for increased IT productivity; and 37% seek to improve IT support services.

While vendors like Pano Logic and HP continue to trumpet the glories of zero or thin-client computing, sales are not keeping pace with the hype, at least not yet. IDC expects that U.S. thin-client sales will double during the next few years, but that will amount to less than 2 million units by 2013. "Many businesses are getting their feet wet, but not taking the plunge," states CDW in the report.

Citrix took a big step forward in revolutionizing the virtual desktop in August when it incorporated RingCube's personalization technology into a new release of its software, less than a month after acquiring the company. In addition to RingCube's Personal vDisk solution, XenDesktop 5.5 features the "most significant enhancement to Citrix high-definition HDX user experience technology," promising up to three times faster delivery for both LAN and WAN users at a fraction of the cost of competing solutions.

"Citrix is continuing to raise the bar in terms of the desktop virtualization feature set and is being very aggressive to give customers what they want," says Gartner Research VP Chris Wolf. "The Kaviza acquisition [the VDI-in-a-Box small-and-midsize-business solution acquired in May] can address many branch office scenarios, and gives Citrix a very cost-effective small office/branch office solution that is absent among their competitors. As I see it, Citrix realizes that they have a technology lead, they smell blood, and they’re going for the kill. Picking up Kaviza and RingCube are good examples. Just like with server virtualization, desktop virtualization can be very sticky. So the game right now is all about market penetration. Citrix is doing everything in its power to give prospects very compelling reasons to deploy their software and are having a high degree of success."

In September in a study commissioned by Dimension Data, Forrester Consulting reported that the number of virtual desktop deployments will grow from 27% to 46% in the next two years. The study states that organizations are still in the early stages of transforming their desktop infrastructures from legacy systems such as Windows XP (supported by 47%) to newer platforms like Windows 7 (supported by 31%). This transition is the perfect opportunity to embrace hybrid architectures, according to Forrester.

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