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Cultural issues may be the biggest stumbling blocks to recovering ROI (return on investment) in desktop virtualization implementations.

That’s because while the overall solution – thin clients and back end infrastructure – can cost the same or more than just updating an enterprise’s PCs. The real cost savings that companies hope to realize comes from the streamlined administration, maintenance and management of the enterprise in day to day operations. That means less break/fix work and fewer visits to the desktop.

Some work will go away, according to HP director of thin clients and client virtualization, Jeff Groudan. And moving the employees who used to do that work to higher value tasks is a tough cultural challenge that many companies can’t realize right away.

That and similar thorny issues around desktop virtualization create opportunities for the so-called trusted advisor who can help customers make these changes and realize the cost savings.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons why more IT solution providers these days are looking to create a virtualization practice.  

Groudan said he’s seen a higher interest level from channel partners in establishing virtualization practices. To help, HP has created a set of reference architectures that enable channel partners get up to speed quickly with complete virtualization solutions.

But he says that the progress that desktop virtualization has made in the past few years has spurred more interest from customers and therefore from VARs as well.

“We are predicting the market to grow 20 to 25 percent year-over-year for client virtualization,” he told Channel Insider. Many of the implementation of such solutions are staggered over a few years as IT shops look to spread out the costs of updating back end infrastructure and also updating clients.

Groudan says that some organizations that had been planning PC upgrades and delayed them during the recession’s deep cost cutting are now considering thin client solutions. And sometimes those projects are transformed to thin client projects instead.

And channel partners’ expertise has also evolved from older technologies such as XenApp and Windows Terminal Server to embrace some of the newer technologies that have come to market.

“I think they see this as an opportunity to add value around design, development and support,” he said.