Desktop virtualization is developing much more slowly than data center virtualization, and it's a much trickier technology to deploy from both a cost and business model perspective, according to VARs who took part in a panel discussion Tuesday at UBM Channel's Best Of Breed, or BOB, conference in Monarch Beach, Calif.
One common misconception customers have about desktop virtualization, also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), is that it will yield the same immediate and impressive return on investment as server virtualization, panelists agreed.
"If you're looking at VDI to save the customer money, most of the time it doesn't go anywhere," said Adam Bari, managing director of IPM, a New York-based virtualization solution provider. "If they haven’t virtualized their servers yet, don’t even talk to them about desktop virtualization. We've done hundreds of free proofs-of-concept over the years and have learned our lesson."
Panel moderator Tiffani Bova, vice president of research focusing on IT marketing and channel strategies at Gartner, asked panelists to explain why the rate of VDI adoption is still in the single digits.
Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider, said there's a lack of skilled talent to deploy VDI. "Desktop virtualization isn't just about installing technology, it transforms the way companies do business," he said.
VDI also requires a different sales process than server virtualization, said Jim Perrier, president of Universal Data, a New Orleans-based solution provider.
"It's a new concept for customers, and they have difficulty understanding the ongoing savings in management costs that VDI brings," Perrier said. "VDI has to be a long-range plan, not something you budget for this year, but for the next five years."
"It's just a different selling model -- customers are not seeing that cost savings up-front, and that can slow down the sales process," said Sam Haffar, president and co-CEO of Computex, a solution provider based in Houston. "It's about educating our sales force on how to sell VDI."
VDI deployments typically require a business driver, such as security or disaster recovery, to gain real momentum within organizations, panelists agreed. The rise of the iPad as the tablet of choice within organizations, and the industry-shaping force of consumerization, are also shining light on the advantages VDI can offer.
"[VDI is] a segue to the cloud because it doesn't limit organizations in terms of where they're working," said Ira Silverman, president and CEO of Gotham Technology Group, a New York-based solution provider. "What matters most is that they're not tied to one device."
The iPad is now driving Windows 7 migrations, as is the fact that most organizations have users that need to access Windows applications. This, Silverman noted, should help drive business to the channel for the foreseeable future.
"In some of our installations, if there were business applications already written for the iPad, the iPad might not have been as much of a driver," he said.