The current state of desktop virtualisation

Why aren’t more people taking advantage of the benefits of desktop virtualisation? Simon Brew looks at the current state of play…

With growing adoption of cloud services, and a move towards mobile technologies, some important changes are accelerating with regards how people view a computer, and what they do with it.

A lot of businesses – and a growing number - have latched on to the idea of remote working for a start, which is not surprising given the potential cost benefits involved. The old model of one desk, one computer, one hard drive, one person is clearly in decline.

The challenge facing the market is to make the technology somewhere near as accessible as buying a computer off a shelf. To reduce the levels of expertise required to take advantage of virtualisation. And to continue to educate the market on the benefits.

So then: where does desktop virtualisation fit into the equation? After all, even when a business does buy a simple computer, it’s generally utterly overqualified for the job in hand. Given the demands on most small and medium sized enterprise technology revolves around office work and the web, even a Core i3 processor seems overkill on a massive scale.

Virtualisation, though, opens up possibilities. It means that the days of one server running one operating system and one application are over. Instead, in one of the most popular deployments of virtualisation, one server can effectively host many virtual machines. That in turn means that the humble PC itself, whilst not irrelevant, is less pivotal.

Bluntly, that means that the computers on people’s desks no longer need an individual operating system and installations of key software. They pull what they're after directly in from the server, which in turn, makes a network far more efficient to manage.

Smaller businesses in particular still overlook some of the benefits this offers (although sellers of virtualisation solutions continue to report double digit growth), arguably because of worries over the technical expertise required to deploy such a set-up.

There’s also an education issue here: to a very small start-up, how do they even find out about virtualisation in the first place? How many businesses start up with equipment they’ve bought off the shelves of PC World, and leave it at that, after all? Virtualisation, to some sectors of the marketplace, remains a well-kept secret.

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