Unlike server virtualization and the likes of VMware, which took off at rocket speed when it hit the market in the 2000s, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has had a slower and more varied adoption history. Customers could immediately gauge the cost-savings with VMware and other server virtualization technologies, while VDI is more about transforming the workplace and end-user environment, with cost-savings built into the mix. Also, for customers who grew up on the classic Microsoft Windows desktop interface, VDI has often been seen as falling short in the user experience category. Just the fact that desktop virtualization comes in a variety of types and flavors has also slowed down adoption.
But in industries like healthcare or the federal government where workers often carry out just a function or two on their PCs, and security is paramount, VDI can be good alternative to having a fully-loaded PC on every desktop. VDI also offers a level of data security at the individual device-level that can be appealing in these sectors. MicroTech, based in Vienna, Va., is a leading IT service and solutions provider to corporate and federal government clients. According to the company’s President and CEO, Tony Jimenez, MicroTech’s customer base in government and healthcare sectors is finding significant ROI with VDI implementations, as he discussed with Stu Miniman, principal research contributor at Wikibon.org, on Siliconangle.tv at EMC World 2011 (video below).
“We can increase our public sector and even commercial customers’ ability to do more with less,” said Jimenez. “They get more bang for the buck.”
Due to the nature of VDI impacting the desktop where people work each day, it has to be a friendly user experience, or it won’t fly. “We’re talking about change. Ultimately when you’ve got somebody who’s used to Windows 7 and you kind of pull the carpet out from under them and give them something that looks and feels different, even though it might be better, it’s not better for them,” Jimenez said. “We’re trying to make sure that we keep the end-user in mind as we develop these solutions.”
He noted that in the federal government space, security has always been a big focus, and VDI lets federal customers do more because the data resides in the data center. “We’re giving them access to a lot more data with a security model that makes them feel comfortable,” Jimenez said.
Cloud-based VDI solutions may appeal to some customers, but as an integrator, MicroTech finds that some customers are more comfortable with cloud, while others are more hesitant. “Some of our government customers think cloud is outsourcing, which it’s not, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind for them.” The company has developed high-level partnerships with EMC, Cisco, VMware and Microsoft, among others, and has built home-grown private cloud solutions for customers with these partners’ assistance.
“With cloud, customers want to make sure all the kinks are out of it and that they can actually measure the ROI, because it’s a big investment for them,” Jimenez said. “We have to be able to measure the efficiency and show it to them.”