Dell Software 2013 Predictions: Where is Desktop Virtualization Headed?

2012 showed steady progress in the adoption of desktop virtualization -- and especially interesting is the great interest in this technology from companies outside of the Fortune lists. No, the entire planet does not yet have a virtual desktop (although some earlier crystal ball analysts did think that), but, the steady progress in adoption is no surprise to me, since desktop virtualization has been overhyped for so long.

Thankfully, 2012 also showed that awareness has risen -- that you can't just go out and ‘do desktop virtualization.' The masses now know that desktop virtualization is NOT the same as server virtualization, or pure server-based computing. Desktop virtualization requires the company to carefully analyze and calculate its expected usage for this explosive technology, both today and in years to come.

The business case for desktop virtualization -- especially VDI -- is complicated and requires a time commitment, but can pay off in spades once it's been fine tuned. The benefits can be tremendous, but you need to consider all aspects, which is where I see huge potential in 2013. Organizations are seeing unique factors due to trends in technology and industry movements, and these will play a critical role in desktop virtualization over the coming months. Let's take a look at what I believe are the top three predictions that will impact this space.

Simplicity will dramatically lower barriers to entry into desktop virtualization

In 2013, the simplification of desktop virtualization will accelerate, and with this simplification, will come cost reduction. On the one hand, we will see desktop virtualization vendors creating products that minimize the Capex cost of desktop virtualization so much that Capex can no longer be considered a slowing factor in adoption. On the other hand, we will see the big vendors doubling down on simplicity from the solution angle.

Desktop virtualization is not a product, but rather a concept, and its many moving parts require more than just a desktop virtualization software product. Server hardware, storage, networking and (thin) client devices are all needed to create a successful deployment. In 2013, some big vendors will be able to offer customers an end-to-end solution - providing a whole new level of simplicity at an unbeatable cost, and removing other cost-related barriers, as well. Call it a one-stop-shop for desktop virtualization. All the guesswork can be removed, so customers can focus on the things that specifically matter to their business.

Rampant device variation and adoption will make desktop virtualization a requirement for managing BYOD

Desktop virtualization will allow companies to embrace the consumerization of IT, specifically BYOD. Desktop virtualization is an easy way for companies to support BYOD initiatives -- it's been this way for years -- but in 2013, the ongoing surge in device variation will see vendors (re)inventing the messaging around it.

For those companies that really want to adopt BYOD quickly without too much effort, we will see an increased uptake in DaaS. The complex work is all done by the DaaS provider, and all the customer has to do is use their device of choice. Having said that, I think we will see the biggest uptake in DaaS in the SMB market, because these generally are less complex environments and a better fit for DaaS solutions as they stand today.

Context-aware device access will force organizations to sharpen focus on desktop virtualization

The BYOD rage brings me to my last prediction. The developments for BYOD will not stop at just supporting the newest tablet; depending on the device being used, access to the virtual desktop will require more context-awareness. This is what will represent the line in the sand. Some vendors will want to cross that line -- to be everything to everyone by doing mobile device management (MDM), mobile access management (MAM) and everything in between -- losing focus on desktop virtualization itself. In 2013, the market will learn that desktop virtualization is a separate focal point, and should not be placed in the same cereal box with MDM/MAM.


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