Desktop virtualization has evolved in 2008 as a promising technology, with major vendors announcing or updating their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions. IDC predicts that desktop virtualization will grow to $2 billion annually by 2011, while Gartner forecasts that up to 660 million PCs will be virtualized in that same timeframe. Good blog on desktop virtualizationPete Foley, CEO of RingCube (a VDI component vendor and VMware partner), has written a descriptive and useful blog entry on VDI recently. In the entry, he highlights some of the benefits for IT, including:* Virtual desktop enabled deployment can reduce up to $2,800 (includes approximately $1,200 in hardware/software costs) and elimination of most ongoing support costs (Gartner TCO report, 8-08)* Extends PC life up to seven years * Added benefits of disaster recovery, security and agility Pete also highlights some of the requirements to ensure that desktop virtualization is equally good for the end user spending their days (and often nights, like I am now) on that virtual world:--”Furthermore, the quality of the virtual desktop experience should neither be dependent on the available bandwidth, average latency, packet loss of its network connection nor should PC drivers, printers, and various peripherals no longer work once the desktop is virtualized….Desktop virtualization should not only lower desktop management costs and increase control for IT administrators but deliver a high-performance desktop experience anytime, anywhere that increases the agility and productivity of the enterprise workforce.” — This is a very important point to note, as the success of a VDI deployment -and the impact on your help desk -will be in large part determined by the experience your end users will have. Protection and security of data is obviously a high priority for IT and business management, but end users are most often focused on application response times and availability of services. Enter the Network: a key asset for desktop virtualizationGiven the critical role the network plays today in delivering access for remote users to data and applications in the data center, imagine the increased responsibility it now has providing access to the entire computing environment + experience- While it has to provide complete availability, it also has the opportunity to empower desktop virtualization and end users through its more advanced features like WAN optimization.Specifically, it can do some key things, including:* Up to quintuple the number of remote users on a given WAN link (1)* Accelerate performance and/or improve the end user experienceWAN optimization uses specific technologies to achieve this through:* Reducing the volume of data being sent (via compression and redundancy elimination)* Minimizing the impact of TCP and other protocols (e.g. RTSP) on desktop performanceCisco has developed a solution with VMware that highlights these benefits for both IT staff and end users, and vendors in the virtualization and network industries will no doubt continue this effort moving forward. Do you have an experience with desktop virtualization to share?(1) Cisco and other vendors’ testing have shown that an average desktop virtualization session can average 300-350Kbps of traffic per end user. Example: a T1 can support 4-5 end users with virtual desktops natively, vs. up to 25 users on the same circuit when WAN optimization is deployed.