Desktop Virtualization Taking Off, but Physical Desktops to Stay: Survey

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

While many companies are adopting desktop virtualization, few are going completely virtual in the near-term.

Research conducted by Matrix42 at the 2011 Citrix Synergy San Francisco conference shows that desktop virtualization is finally being adopted by the mainstream market, with 59 percent of companies either in the process or planning to deploy within the next six months. Desktop virtualization initiatives are driven by a number of perceived benefits, but the biggest is reduced cost of management and support. An overwhelming number of respondents (70 percent) confirmed their desire to use a single tool for managing both physical and virtual desktops rather than having to use separate solutions.

While many companies are adopting desktop virtualization, few are going completely virtual in the near-term. Only 4 percent said they expect to go completely virtual, and another 21 percent said they expect a relatively short transition period while they move to a virtual desktop infrastructure. The rest expected a long, or even indefinite, period where they will support both physical and virtual desktops.

"2011 seems to be the year that businesses stop speculating about virtualization and actually invest in it," said Matrix42 CEO Herbert Uhl. "Unfortunately, however, there won’t be a clear-cut switch for most organizations. For the IT manager, the new challenge will be managing a mix of physical and virtual desktops—for the long run."

The survey found that while just 5 percent of desktops today are virtualized, by next year that is expected to rise to 20 percent. Half of those surveyed said they expect to support a mix of virtual and physical desktops indefinitely, and 42 percent percent of respondents cited reduced cost of management and support as the biggest perceived benefit of desktop virtualization.

More user flexibility and mobility was stated by 33 percent as the main benefit of moving to a virtualized desktop, followed by improved availability and performance (24 percent), hardware and software cost savings (22 percent) and improved security and compliance (22 percent). The survey also found BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives are popular, but managing and securing multiple devices creates extra challenges. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of companies already support use of their employees’ own devices like smartphones and tablets in the workplace, while 38 percent said they are planning on it.