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Research: 2011 State of Storage

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IT Pro Impact: VDI in the Cloud

Research: 2011 State of Storage

Why VDI Makes Sense Now

VDI, a technology that looked to be at death's door just a year or two ago, is getting a new lease on life thanks to the convergence of two industry trends: the post-PC era of tablets and smartphones and the emergence of cloud services. Still, IT pros have long memories. Early VDI adopters were underwhelmed by the technology and burned by the cost of owning and operating a complex infrastructure, meaning hosted virtual desktop providers have a tough sell.

In their favor: The SaaS model of desktop delivery does address the most serious problems plaguing on-premises installations. There's no hardware to buy; most of the software is provided (unless it's Microsoft software, as we'll discuss); end user support is included; and the services are hosted in multiple data centers, meaning built-in redundancy and minimal WAN latency.

On the negative side of the ledger, PC price erosion has erased much of the hardware cost advantage of thin clients, while touch screen mobile devices, with their very un-Windows look and feel (at least until Windows 8 tablets hit the street) make decidedly suboptimal remote desktop clients. And offline use still requires a client-side hypervisor, making it a nonstarter for tablets and further limiting your choice of service. Yet virtual desktops do make sense for certain users and businesses, and for these, the hosted model will almost certainly be preferable to a do-it-yourself implementation. We’ll example the pros and cons of SaaS VDI; see where cloud services help--and don't; outline the various service and technology options; and provide some tips for selecting and using cloud-based VDI. (S4680312)

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