VDI Saves Money–Sometimes

On 28 December 2012 by Pete Petersen

Piggy bank

In Bridget Botelho’s article, many of the benefits of VDI are discussed and rightly concluded. But one of the article’s tenets is that VDI does not save money. Theodore Love, technology director at Phoenix Central Schools district in New York said so in no uncertain terms. Looking at VDI in so narrow a view will cause many organizations to pass by the savings and advantages–including competitive advantages–of VDI.

In order to realize the benefits of VDI, there is an up-front investment. In many school districts, the up-front cost actually saves a tech refresh–and that’s the reason for the VDI project. In other cases, the costs of doing otherwise are roughly equivalent, and sometimes VDI costs more up front, as it apparently did at Phoenix Central.

But the savings and benefits are not limited to hardware and licensing.

As an example, image management is important. Although many organizations are already enjoying mature, efficient image management strategies for physical machines, in a well-implemented VDI solution the image management is inherent and natural.

Another example is that application updating, OS patching, and software distribution are also inherently much more successful. For instance, given that the VDI machines are controlled, missing an update because someone forgot to leave their laptop connected and on overnight is a thing of the past.

In Steven Warren’s article from 2009, these great VDI benefits are still very relevant:

  • Management – In a typical corporate infrastructure, you  manage desktops using remote software technology such as Altiris or some other push technology. It is really hard to manage hundreds of desktops as you are well aware if you administer desktops in your corporate infrastructure. Using technology such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allows you to have central management of all your desktops and really control what is being installed and used on the desktops. Deployment of virtual desktops is lightning fast as opposed to using imaging technology such as Norton or other antiquated technologies. Would you like to manage 500 desktops all over the United States or Europe or manage them from one data center?
  • Security – Security is a key factor in rolling out VDI. With VDI, you have greater control of how you secure your desktop. You can lock down the image from external devices or prevent copying data from the image to your local machine; I’m a big fan of this feature of VDI. Remote users or road warriors also benefit as sensitive data is stored on the server in the data center and not the device. If the device is stolen, the information is protected.
  • OS migrations – Let’s say you want to roll out Windows Vista  to a select few managers. Prior to VDI, you would have to look at their equipment and most likely upgrade hardware, memory, disk space, etc. With VDI, you can just push out a Windows Vista image from a central location to the group of managers.
  • VDI image – You can create a library of VDI images to meet all of your company needs. If your company is seasonal, you can have extra images to handle the increased employee traffic. If you use third-party vendors/contractors/consultants, you can use secure/encrypted locked down images to allow them to work in your environment.
  • Snapshot technology – With VDI, you have the ability  to roll back desktops to different states. This is a great feature, and it allows you to give a lot of flexibility to your end users.
  • Go green – A thin client VDI session will use less electricity than a desktop computer.  Using VDI is a way to reduce your carbon footprint on our planet and save your company money in power costs.
  • Independence – With VDI, who cares what device you use? A thin client, a PC, Apple, Linux, etc. As long as you can connect to your VDI with ICA or RDP, you are golden.