The Costs of Endpoint Virtualization

Many enterprises wonder: Is getting starting with endpoint virtualization phenomenally expensive, or can we expect a return on investment in a reasonable period? An industry expert explains core principles.

The term “endpoint virtualization” is an umbrella term that refers to any technology that abstracts the end user experience from the physical hardware that delivers that experience. For instance, software as a service allows staff to use applications that reside across the country (or the globe) from where they sit. A popular use of endpoint virtualization is the separation of the desktop from PC hardware, as thin clients allow muscular computing power to be distributed to myriad personnel.

Many companies, of course, are eager to adopt endpoint virtualization. The potential costs savings that accompany this more flexible use of hardware are sizable. Yet adoption has been measured, partially because enterprises are leery of the upfront costs.

The questions surrounding implementation are numerous: Where, exactly, do the costs savings come from? Is getting starting with virtualization phenomenally expensive, or can we expect a return on investment in a reasonable period?

To address these issues, I spoke with Andi Mann, a vice president at research firm Enterprise Management Associates. Andi is widely recognized as a leading expert on virtualization in the enterprise.

(Note: this video is accompanied by data graphs posted lower on this page. )

The following graphs are from an Enterprise Management Associates survey of IT professionals with working knowledge of current user-facing virtualization, employed by companies with a minimum of 250 employees. The survey was vendor-independent.

endpoint virtualization costs, thin clients

Q: What results are you actually achieving from your end user virtualization solutions?

As seen above, virtualization allows employees significantly greater mobility – which makes sense, given that users who aren't tethered to hardware can work effectively in any physical location.

endpoint virtualization costs, thin clients

Q: Which end user virtualization solutions is your company already deploying?

It's not surprising that browser-based applications have top adoption rates. Expect this to grow quickly. However, this will be accompanied by an entire array of security concerns based on browser vulnerabilities.

endpoint virtualization costs, thin clients

Q: Which end-user virtualization solutions does your company plan to deploy within the next 12 months?

Notice the popularity of "local OS virtualization," which relates to the practice of running open source and Windows operating systems on the same boxes.

endpoint virtualization costs, thin clients

Q: Please rate the importance of each of the following decision factors in choosing end-user virtualization solutions.

Isn't is ironic? The most important factor in choosing a virtualization solution is "ease of use for end users" followed by "ease of management." No matter how complex the technology is (and virtualization isn't simple) and how much is spent on IT staff, ultimately users want it to be simple and understandable. That will be a big challenge for virtualization vendors in the years ahead.

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Tags: cloud computing, virtualization, SaaS, thin client, application servers


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