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Chris Fleck

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Does Your Work PC Suck? Desktop Virtualization Can Help

Desktop Virtualization allows companies to minimize and optimize the security and deployment software

For some IT readers this question may get your defenses up, for others it may be an acknowledgment of users perception due to the many business, policy and current PC deployment practices. No doubt many users (and most IT pros) do in fact have a better PC at home than at work which only leads to higher expectations for how a PC could or should perform. How can Desktop Virtualization help the situation ?

Old PCs that are underpowered for the job - The traditional PC refresh cycle is the standard method to address this issue however users near the end of a 3 or 5 year recycle are not happy campers. Replacing old PC's with thin clients and centralizing desktop images with VDI or shared virtual desktops is an alternative to the refresh cycle and budget item. IT can keep capability in line with increasing user application performance requirements without the long refresh cycle obstacles.

User-induced problems - For companies that allow users to have Admin access, users may be happy with the freedom to install the apps they want, but as IT knows this frequently leads to all kinds of problems. This could be due to malware, registry rot, startup clutter and many other ills well known by IT. A recent NetworkWorld article has a good summary here. Desktop Virtualization helps this situation in many ways, for example using PVS with XenDesktop users are provided a fresh image with each use making making damaged images irrelevant. For private image VDI deployments new images can be delivered in a self serve process with IT controls. If user breaks their image they just click to get a new one.

Locked down desktops - For task based users with limited requirements a locked down PC provides a functional, albeit expensive solution. For knowledge workers with variable needs the desire to install apps themselves causes much of the grief between users and IT. Most users also want to personalize their desktop/workspace which many locked down PC environments prevent. For task workers Desktop Virtualization can provide a lower cost and manageable solution with Thin Clients and Shared Virtual Desktops. For knowledge workers, Desktop Virtualization provides additional options that can be managed as well as personalization but the debate around user installed apps will continue.

Security software bloat - Many corporate PCs end up with cumulative security, ESD and monitoring software that can seem to do more harm than good. Certainly this is all implemented for a reason, but if it ends up with users impacted by slow PCs they are going to rightfully complain. Desktop Virtualization allows companies to minimize and optimize the security and deployment software installed in the Server or VDI images that can be transparent to users.

Unforeseen change issues - As made visible in the recent Microsoft security update problem, s**t happens. As much testing as Microsoft, App ISVs or IT does before rolling out a change or update there are bound to be occasional problems, especially in a distributed PC environment. Desktop Virtualization can minimize application conflicts by streaming and isolating apps into images on-demand. The opportunity for problems is intrinsically reduced by centralized fewer images without hardware dependancies. For OS update or change issues, XenDesktop with PVS allows IT to rapidly roll back to known good state with minimal impact.

Out of business when a PC is down - Downtime during repair can be a major issue if a user is dependent on a single PC, this issue is even more severe for remote workers. I have seen and heard examples of high paid remote sales professionals that lose a week of work ( plus company revenue impact ) because their laptop had problems that could not be resolved remotely and the laptop had to be sent to corporate for repair and then shipped back out ( A week of productivity is worth more than any PC ). Desktop Virtualization solves this issue easily by making loaner PC/Laptops easy to configure and deploy. For remote users IT can also enable safe "eyes only" access from an untrusted home PC while a repair is made.

I want to choose my own PC - More often employees are requesting PC's and laptops that are not on the corporate IT approved list. In addition many would like the option to use their own PC for work or better yet have the company reimburse the employee for a purchase of the PC that they can use for home and work. Desktop Virtualization makes the "Bring Your Own Computer" BYOC model a viable option keeping work and personal environments completely isolated.

What are the other reasons that employees complain about their work PC? Can Desktop Virtualization help?

More Stories By Chris Fleck

Chris Fleck is Vice President of Emerging Solutions at Citrix Systems. Chris started his career at IBM working across multiple engineering and product organizations leading to Business Unit Exec of the IBM Industrial Computer Group. As a pioneer of new technologies, Chris founded an IBM spin-off to commercialize the initial Server Blade products as CEO of OmniCluster Technologies. At Citrix Chris is responsible for Emerging Solutions and is involved with or leading strategic initiatives at the company. You can follow him on Twitter and his blog at TechInstigator.com

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