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The year of desktop virtualization

When the audience at VMworld 2008 was asked if anyone had virtualized hundreds of desktops, I saw only one person raise his hand.

This year, anecdotally, VMware said at its partner show that the majority of its customers are evaluating, testing or rolling out its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product.

Last month, Citrix Systems said that 1,000 new customers bought its desktop virtualization technology in Q4 2009, with several customers buying more than 10,000 seats.

In addition, a very large food manufacturer plans to virtualize 10,000 desktops this year, according to a system integrator I spoke with who had interviewed a job applicant working on the project.

There aren’t many CIOs putting themselves out there as desktop virtualization pioneers on a large scale, however. There are risks involved, after all: The technology is not mature, the ROI is questionable, new strategies have to be developed to account for the capacity needs of a virtual infrastructure, and software companies are still trying to figure out how to support their applications in a virtual environment.

Yet companies are moving forward with desktop virtualization. Independent Bank Corp., out of Iona, Mich., for example, has 1,000 virtual desktops as part of its disaster recovery strategy.

Disaster recovery was not named as a top driver for desktop virtualization in an informal survey conducted by Forrester Research analyst Mark Bowker. What did top the list? Reduced capital expenses associated with traditional desktops, simplified application upgrades and deployments, and reduced operational expenses tied to supporting client devices.

Let us know what is moving desktop virtualization forward — or holding it back — at your company. Email ctorode@techtarget.com.

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