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Server and desktop virtualisation projects are shoddy

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The vast majority of server and desktop virtualisation projects fail to meet their objectives, according to research which implies vendors are misrepresenting the benefits of desktop virtualisation.

The research, by Computacenter, looked at 130 UK IT decision makers and found "only six per cent fully achieving ROI (return on investment) from server [virtualisation] projects and four per cent from virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)".

A Computacenter spokesperson said: "Of the organisations we spoke to we found that four per cent had achieved absolutely no ROI from server virtualisation deployments, but with only six per cent achieving full ROI, this leaves a large gap where 22 per cent felt they had achieved ROI to only ‘some degree’, 11 per cent ‘didn’t know’ and 15 per cent had ‘no ROI case in place’." It was pretty much the same pattern for VDI projects.

It also revealed that "respondents believe that VDI makes it easier to manage and support desktop applications, with 83 per cent claiming it's easier to deploy and 70 per cent believing it's easier to maintain, which is not the actually the case in most implementations".

This suggests that VDI vendors are overstating the benefits. For example, VMware's website says:

VMware View 4 is the industry’s first purpose built solution for delivering desktops as a managed service. Transform desktop management into a simplified and automated process, reduce the total cost of desktop ownership by 50 per cent... Simplify desktop management... Lower Total Cost of Ownership by 50 per cent... Reduce your desktop acquisition, operating and management costs through VMware View desktop virtualization solution.

Computacenter's spokesperson said: "We believe it’s a misleading perception that VDI makes it easier to manage and support desktop applications."

Computacenter would have us understand that one of the main benefits of VDI is the ability to rapidly provide tactical desktop access for offshore workers. This can increase productivity through better enablement of remote working and hot desking.

In its research server virtualisation was most widely adopted (63 per cent) followed by virtual storage (26 per cent), desktop virtualisation (18 per cent) and finally virtual networking (15 per cent). Computacenter thinks this is because its respondents are travelling on a virtualisation journey looking at virtualising servers first, then storage, desktops and finally networks.

The respondents are more certain about the role of virtualisation in their IT strategy than cloud computing. In a canned statement, Terry Walby, a Computacenter director, said: "The models for the future lie in virtualisation on demand, the cloud and self-service. And companies are already closer to these models than they think.

However, those doing it on the cheap will find that the adoption rate is slow and the risks are high. It is much better to invest in the right tools and services now to do the job right for the specific needs of the business."

Generally, Computacenter believes companies are taking a short-term tactical view of virtualisation and not planning for it properly. They spend too little initially, aiming to get virtualisation on the cheap and failing to get the benefits they hoped for. Whereas if they had gone to Computacenter... ®

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