Where are all the Virtual Linux Desktops?: Page 2

Posted October 20, 2008

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance

(Page 2 of 2)

The point is that there is plenty of work to be done with servers before we start worrying too much about desktops – especially for organizations that don’t have any near-term plans for hardware and PC upgrades.

With the economy in a tailspin, most businesses are delaying, if not freezing, new equipment purchases.

And server virtualization itself has obstacles. According to the Burton Group, the two critical obstacles impeding wider server virtualization adoption are vendor licenses and vendor support.

Many application vendors refuse to provide support if their applications are running inside virtual machines, while others support only a specific platform, usually VMware’s ESX Server. Meanwhile, many end-user license agreements (EULAs) are simply out of date and don’t mesh well with evolving virtualized infrastructures.

These hurdles are easy enough to clear, but will take some time.

Adoption: Slow but Steady

John Madden at Ovum, meanwhile, believes that successful server virtualization efforts will drive the demand for other types of virtualization, including storage and desktop virtualization. As IT managers realize costs savings and management efficiencies, they’ll seek to replicate those successes.

“I never expected desktop virtualization to have a hockey stick-adoption rate,” Madden said. “Adoption will be slow and steady. It’s already underway, but I doubt there will be a huge flashpoint.”

Both of the analysts I spoke to believe that the biggest barrier to adoption isn’t technical or even cost-related. Rather, it’s cultural.

“People are used to having their own devices. They have a sense of ownership,” Madden said. “From a job standpoint, they worry that virtualized desktops will affect productivity.”

Another issue is support. With the desktop at a remove from the employee, it feels as if support is even more remote than before.

It’s purely psychological, of course, but if those attitudes are in the boardroom and not just the cubicle, adoption is slowed.

Madden also believes the cultural issue is largely generational. Younger workers fresh out of college don’t have the same attachment to PCs that older workers do. In fact, for younger workers, the go-to device isn’t the PC but the mobile phone. Younger workers, though, aren’t the ones calling the shots when it comes to virtualization initiatives.

Meanwhile, desktop virtualization vendors are already looking past the PC to other devices. As VMware puts it, they seek to leverage virtualized infrastructures to deliver services to “universal clients.”

Red Hat, through its acquisition of Qumranet, has a similar vision. They believe that desktop virtualization has the potential to deliver anywhere, anytime, any-device access to computing resources.

The anywhere, any-device concept has been around for years. Remember Internet appliances?

The reality has been less exciting than the hype. Could virtualization, though, be what finally makes this vision real?

It certainly addresses a key hurdle, removing processing burdens from the client-side devices. Moreover, it promises to deliver a consistent user experience, regardless of the device.

Now, we just need better input options, better throughput over the wireless WAN and better battery life, and we’ll be in business.

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Tags: Linux, server, virtualization, Red Hat, workloads

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