Desktop virtualization stirs interest

Workshop feedback

In car VDI

Perhaps the most intriguing example of flexibility was brought out by another anonymous reader. And after seeing why, you can understand the anonymous nature of the comment: "In a traffic jam I've done 'in car VDI' with 3g dongle and Asus eee. I didn't have much screen, but I was productive (read 'billing') and not sat in a jam losing money. Good for the client, good for me. If you work 1 hour's drive away from home and you're on call, you can pull in anywhere and connect so long as there's a PC. I can take the kids to the zoo AND do that 10 minute failover test that no one not on VDI would volunteer for on a Saturday afternoon."

Readers also gave examples of other explicit advantages available, especially in the area of the ongoing support of users. Benefits mentioned range from "Running applications that are only functional on older operating systems" through to the utilitarian, but extremely satisfying "SAVE DAYS OF TIME AND EFFORT".

In terms of more general benefits, Britt Johnston gave yet another possible angle when highlighting the ability to "bring my own home laptop, and connect safely to the company environment? It would be similar to using my own pen and paper or car to get a more pleasant writing/driving experience."

Now while this may not appear to be very important, this is in fact extremely profound. Over the lifetime of PC usage in business end users have become used to regarding their work machines as the 'personal computer' of the early days of IBM marketing. And this attitude has caused many previous attempts at managing or regulating desktop usage by IT staff to run into extreme user resentment or hostility. By giving users the comfort of having their own machines with corporate virtual systems running on them may overcome some people barriers to making IT support affordable.

But in the interests of balance, we must point out that not everyone is entirely won over by the case for desktop virtualization. One anonymous reader stated: "I use a virtual desktop, and I hate it. The performance is terrible - sometimes it can take 20 seconds just to repaint the screen. I have a VM which is configured with 512mb, which is pathetic (and my *real* machine has 2gb!)." Could this possibly be a case, as a couple of later comments said, of either inappropriate use of desktop virtualization, or simply just a matter of poor configuration by not giving the system the RAM it needs?

Another anonymous reader went on: "I cannot understand why anyone wants to foist this charade on users (I write programs on IBM mainframes - I know that TSO is almost, conceptually, similar to virtualization, but it works infinitely better). I have a real PC, which is reasonably powerful, but I am condemned to use it as a thin client to an underpowered server, giving me much less performance than I had before."

On the whole, however, positive experiences far outweigh the negative ones, certainly if the feedback from Register readers is anything to go by.

To finish off, we got a great tongue-in-cheek comment from Pete 2, who pointed out that some potential advantages of desktop virtualization might lead to some unexpected consequences, especially if using the technology away from the workplace: "It does have one drawback however, instead of trying to fix faults themselves, the ease at which intra-family support (i.e. me) can sort things out means that the call goes out for every little problem."

We've all been there, but if desktop virtualization can reduce the stress involved in telephone diagnosis of your mother's PC problem as well as help within the business, that can't be bad.

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