Benefits and Pitfalls of Desktop Virtualization
Despite the advent of mobile and web applications, enterprises are still using desktop computers and applications. Desktop applications can still provide features and functionalities that are not supported by ubiquitous lightweight web-based clients, which is the reason why several enterprises are still tied to desktop computing. Nevertheless, deploying, maintaining and managing desktop computers is a daunting task, given that updating desktop operating systems and software applications takes time and requires human effort and resources from the IT department. In recent years, desktop maintenance has become even more challenging, since operating systems patches, installations of new software and security updates take place very frequently (e.g., on a monthly or even weekly basis). Moreover, desktop computing is more challenging for Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) than it is for larger enterprises, as SMBs operate based on a limited set of in-house IT resources. For all these reasons enterprises (notably SMBs) are seeking for effective ways to manage their desktop computing infrastructure. Desktop virtualization is a software technology that can alleviate desktop computing management and maintenance chores. In particular, desktop virtualization is a software technology that manages application software independently from the physical client device (i.e. the desktop computer) that is used to access the software. In several cases, desktop virtualization is conveniently called client virtualization, as it separates the desktop client applications from the physical computer. Likewise, the term DaaS (Desktop as a Service) is also used to denote on-demand, utility-based access to desktop software, without access to the physical desktop device.
A desktop virtualization infrastructure virtualizes all the components of the desktop, as a means of providing a flexible and secure model for desktop delivery. Based on this flexible and secure model, desktop virtualization delivers a host of benefits to enterprises and their employees. These benefits include:
All of the above benefits lead to reduced costs for enterprises that use desktop virtualization. Reduced costs stem mainly from the need for less IT staff for repairing, provisioning and troubleshooting. This cost factor is of uttermost importance for SMBs. Beyond cost issues, desktop virtualization boosts the productivity of employees, through enabling them to access resources at their convenience.
Aside from business benefits, businesses are likely to experience challenges in their desktop virtualization journey. These challenges include:
Overall, desktop virtualization is a compelling value proposition for SMBs that want to provide flexibility to their employees, yet they cannot afford high installation and maintenance costs for their desktop environments. Nevertheless, there are also cultural, security and regulatory compliance challenges to be overcome. In this context, enterprises should carefully evaluate the pros and cons of desktop virtualization in their business cases, while also considering alternative options such as the use of lightweight (web/mobile) client applications whenever possible.
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