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While desktop virtualization offers the promise of lower costs and
simplified management, the technology is still in its early stages of adoption
and CIOs may still be resistant.

That’s because they perceive plenty of problems with the technology that is such
a stretch from the client/server architecture that IT managers work with today,
and there aren’t many references they can look at as success stories with the
technology.

For example, CIOs tend to view desktop virtualization as posing more risk and a
bigger security threat, according to Phil Grove, chief architect of
collaborative solutions and director of strategy at IT consultant and systems
integrator Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC).

Grove told Channel Insider that CIOs may be overlooking the security gains that
come with desktop virtualization—that even though it does create a single point
of attack in the data center, the data center security is better than typical
desktop security, which means the whole infrastructure is better protected.

Grove said that while CIOs remain concerned about security, network bandwidth
strain and cost that they see comes with desktop virtualization, they remain
very interested in the technology and the business benefits it can offer.

He said he has counseled CIOs that the network effect can mitigate concerns
about network bandwidth strain, and that the cost of desktop virtualization is
actually lower than today’s systems when everything is factored in (for
example, disaster recovery costs for an infrastructure using desktop
virtualization versus DR costs for one without desktop virtualization).

Many customers are opting to do proof-of-concept deployments of the technology
with 50 or so users whose roles are best suited for desktop virtualization
deployments. For example, call center workers or those who telecommute may be
the likely candidates for such a test.

Grove noted that it’s easy to deploy thin clients—much less work than
provisioning and de-provisioning laptops. He said that the thin client he uses
in his office is 1 by 5 by 8 inches.

“I do have a regular desktop. It’s a tablet laptop,” he said. “But because I
have the choice of going to a virtual desktop, I’m going to it more and more.
But I’m not a purebred yet.”

Grove believes it will take a few years for those customers who are doing
proof-of-concept deployments to adopt thin-client computing on a larger scale,
and part of it is a cultural adjustment to the idea of letting go.

“Think of all those organizations that have gone to Salesforce.com,” he said.
“At the beginning they had to get rid of their Seibel investments and their SAP
investments. That was not easy because now all their data is sitting with some
other company. But at the other side of it, now there are freedoms. Look at all
the IT staff we don’t have to worry about anymore.”

Even with all things considered, about 20 percent of the population will always
need a full workstation rather than a virtualized desktop, according to Grove.