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In September, 2010, more than 80 percent of enterprises were said to have a virtualization program or project in place. That's according to a Gartner report, which also declared that only 25 percent server workloads would be running in virtual machines by the end of that year. This leaves an enormous amount of virtualized computing bandwidth -- 80 to 90 percent, the researcher estimated -- on the table.
With that kind of server infrastructure in place, there's little to prevent the virtual desktop infrastructure from taking hold. Or is there?
Gartner in the same release said that such virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) user environments, which it calls hosted virtual desktops (HVDs), represent tremendous potential for power savings, ease of centralized administration and speed and flexibility of deployment.
"HVDs are poised to undergo explosive growth, and enterprises are anticipating the flexibility and other benefits that these devices will bring," said Philip Dawson, research vice president at Gartner. "HVDs provide end-user flexibility, efficiency, energy savings and other benefits, enabling administrators to manage desktops from a centralized location and end users to access their desktops from machines in any location."
There's no single way to define VDI (or HVD), but the technology has been traditionally defined as a transfer of the thick desktop client running on a PC that's located near the user, to the execution of the users' local environment in a virtual machine hosted on a network server, where it can be accessed from any number of thick, thin, or "zero" client systems and utilities.
Once past the major migration hurdles, VDI benefits IT by moving most of the desktop OS management chores away from far-flung desktops and into the data center, where maintenance activities can be centralized and made more efficient, and where protection processes can be institutionalized. Users can access their apps and data from anywhere, as long as they're connected to the company network.