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Like Bramfitt, Crosby also believes that VDI is sometimes deployed in environments where a different type of desktop virtualization would have been a better fit. "If the goal is access to multiple client devices, primary devices and tablets, Terminal Services does this just fine -- and it's already well understood," Crosby said.
As is often the case, it often falls on solution providers to wave away the smokescreen. "A lot of time customers hear the marketing song and dance and are convinced that desktop virtualization will help them. But it may just be a fit for a percentage of their users, and it doesn't have to be 100 percent," Scott Miller, director of business development for virtualization and cloud at World Wide Technology (WWT), a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based based solution provider.
At WWT, Miller leads a national team of experts focused on virtualization and cloud technology whose includes holding desktop virtualization workshops with customers. These aren't sales discussions; in fact, no products are mentioned at all.
Instead, the WWT team explains the different types of desktop virtualization and where it would make sense for customers to deploy the technology. Instruction on the various flavors of server-based computing -- and their limitations -- is also included.
As a customer, "You need to first determine whether it makes sense to do it at all. We've been doing this long enough that it's refreshing for us to tell them no," Miller said. "We can quickly determine from what application stacks customers are using which ones are candidates and which are not."
Varrow's Weiss also finds himself playing defense for customers that have starry eyed notions of what benefits desktop virtualization will bring.
"We've had customers tell us they wanted to roll out 1,000 desktops on VDI, and we said 'Whoa, hold on, you need to know what that means," he said. "In reality, desktop virtualization increases management efficiency, but it doesn't reduce cost."
The careful, deliberate approach to desktop virtualization appears to be working for WWT. Its VMware View sales rose 100 percent from 2009 to 2010, and this year-to-date sales are up 400 percent. Meanwhile, XenDesktop sales rose 150 percent from 2009 to 2010 and are up 200 percent this year, Miller said.
"We're seeing growth in this market," Miller said. "For new opportunities, it's still the fastest growing solution."
While the desktop virtualization party will probably never achieve the same level of raucousness as server virtualization, most solution providers agree that it'll always play a role in some industry segments. Whether the technology becomes more widespread than it is today remains to be seen, but for now, the industry's migration to desktop virtualization is happening with tentative steps.