The region's virtual desktop revolution

Regional adoption of virtual desktop systems is out-pacing uptake in the rest of the world, as organisations look to liberate users from the PC estate and encourage mobility, flexibility and teleworking.

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The region's virtual desktop revolution Virtual desktops potentially allow users to access their corporate applications and data from anywhere there’s a data connection, via any device.
By  Keri Allan Published  March 21, 2013

Regional adoption of virtual desktop systems is out-pacing uptake in the rest of the world, as organisations look to liberate users from the PC estate and encourage mobility, flexibility and teleworking.

The Middle East may have been a late starter when it comes to thin client and virtualisation uptake, but the region has caught up and is now expecting to surpass global adoption, with sales strongest in the education, healthcare and call centre verticals.

The growth in virtualisation can in part be attributed to employees’ demands to work more remotely, which has in turn contributed to the rise in enterprise mobility. Comparatively, thin client uptake has been driven by the increased interest in desktop virtualisation, allowing centralised delivery of content across a network.

The region’s faster growth curve also has to do with other growth triggers explains Deepak Narain, senior systems engineer, VMware EMEA. “Globally, virtualised desktops are still being looked at as a way to shave costs, but in this region the triggers are mobility, security and flexibility. In addition, the region is seeing very heavy investment in markets that are natural adopters of this technology, such as healthcare and education. Nearly every new hospital and university in the region has been designed from the ground up with desktop virtualisation as the deployment topology.”

With the advent of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), a new opportunity has arisen for thin device vendors to grow their footprint. “We believe [this] market will grow substantially through 2016, albeit still make up less than 10% of the professional install base,” says Nathan Hill, research director, Gartner.

“This still presents a big growth opportunity for these vendors as the technology focuses on a complete PC replacement experience. However, most organisations deploying [this] are currently either extending the life of their PC fleet or looking to re-provision them as ‘thin’ with software such as Microsoft ‘Thin PC’ or with thin device vendors specific reprovisioning software such as ‘WYSE virtualisation software’.

“One use case that certainly does resonate is using thin and zero clients to replace PCs when organisations look to increase teleworking via virtual desktop deployment and consolidate facilities and office space, using multi-user thin devices as a hot desktop facility for example. They also continue to generate interest in manufacturing and retail and where field service support for devices is costly or difficult.”

Organisations are beginning to see the benefits these technologies can provide. For example, with the right solution, they have the potential to deliver a virtual desktop to any user on any device.

“More than just VDI, a complete desktop virtualisation solution can provide organisations with the flexibility to mix-and-match delivery scenarios – whether a server-based virtual desktop delivered to a large set of users or a complete personalised Windows desktop to individual or ‘power’ users, or various scenarios in between – all orchestrated from a centrally-managed solution,” highlights Noman Qadir, acting country manager, Citrix MEA.

“Organisations in fast-growing, constantly changing environments need to be able to provision and support new workers quickly, efficiently and cost effectively.

“Desktop virtualisation makes it possible to serve an ever-changing employee or student population, and equip these users with lower-cost thin clients instead of full-featured PCs, or reuse legacy endpoints that would otherwise be insufficient to run the latest operating systems and applications.”

“The most obvious [benefit] is cost – it’s simply much cheaper to manage a hosted desktop solution,” continues Narain. “Imagine, no more PCs to ship around, no spinning fans, no rotating disks. The cost to manage a virtual desktop is just so much lower than a physical desktop that it makes good financial sense.

“But the real benefit is the agility, security and mobility benefits that are simply not possible with traditional desktop environments. What’s the value of being able to turn on a new branch of a bank in days instead of weeks? You’re creating a significant competitive advantage. Or, what’s the value of a hospital being able to secure all patient data in the data centre instead of having records downloaded on PCs sitting on carts on wheels.”

So what are the options currently available to customers? On a broader level there are two types of VDI solution, one on the client side and another that is remote server hosted.

“On the client side, virtualisation software is installed on the client where multiple operating systems can run on top of it. The advantage of this type of virtual desktop is that it allows for a higher performance system since the tasks are executed at the end points. Multiple operating systems can run on a single system. There are no issues with operating system compatibility and they can also run on non-traditional virtual machine end points such as on smart phones or smart pads,” explains Amit Mathur, Cloud Solutions manager, Huawei Enterprise, UAE.

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