Desktop virtualization a channel growth opportunity today

While desktop virtualizaion has been pitched by different vendors in different forms for years, several recent surveys indicate that a tipping point may finally have been reached with trends such as mobility and bring your own device leading many businesses to finally consider virtualizing their desktops.

Solution provider Dimension Data asked Forrester Research to undertake a global study on desktop virtualization, and it found that application bloat, mobility and the consumerization of IT has led more than half of companies to rank desktop virtualization as a critical or major initiative for the next 12 to 18 months. And a Global Security Index survey from Citrix Systems found 33 per cent of large organizaions have already implemented some level of desktop virtualization, with a further 41 per cent planning to do so within the next year.

“Clients are starting to realize and see the benefits from proof of concepts,” said John Meyer, national practice director of data centre solutions at Dimension Data. “With the adoption of more virtual infrastructure and cloud computing clients are building ROI models that are more OpEx-based than CapEx-based, and a lot of the initial cost savings on virtual desktops will be around desktop management.”It’s already moving beyond the initial stages of adoption agreed Kevin Strohmeyer, director of product marketing with Citrix, with some large organizations deploying tens of thousands of virtual seats. Meyer said many clients are looking at desktop virtualization in the context of desktop and operating system refreshes, which carry a significant management burden and the need to touch every desktop.Cost is a major driver for virualizing desktops according to the Citrix study, with 68 per cent listing cost as their biggest motivator. Greater flexibility for end-users, supporting mobile workers and enabling secure access were also key factors though.

“CIOs are trying to figure out how they’ll deliver services to employees when they don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen to the busienss going forward. They’re looking at the future with a lot of uncertainty, and want to build an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to deal with what’s to come,” said Strohmeyer.

When it comes to deployment, Forrester reported 45 per cent of respondents preferred a close-hosted desktop as a service model, with 40 per cent opting for a traditional local instillation.Strohmeyer said virtual desktops scale down well into the mid-market, with Citrix’s “virtual desktop in a box” developed as an SMB play that can allow a smaller organization to easily deploy virtual desktops.For the channel, Meyer said desktop virtualization is a very services-rich, consultative business to be in. To be successful, partners should really understand the business case and how to position it properly.

“It’s an opportunity for Dimension Data to bring in our expertise in networking, security, data management and compute platforms,” said Meyer. “We like to help clients with that first phase of a proof of concept, and then go into deployment with a managed service offering.”

Strohmeyer added there’s the opportunity for incremental revenue and it’s a stickier engagement, because if its set up as a service it’s harder for a customer to change providers.

“It’s an evolving conversation and it’s becoming more and more strategic for the customer,” said Strohmeyer. “If a partner can show up and demonstrate the skills and experience they’re going to win customers.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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