Virtualization Technology Guide: Part 3 – To host or not to host?

Windows 7 could provide the catalyst for a wave of virtualization at the desktop level. Computerworld's Virtualization Guide covers the pros and cons, and looks at which vendors and products you should choose
  • (Computerworld)
  • 11 October, 2010 16:17

Windows 7 could provide the catalyst for a wave of virtualization at the desktop level. Computerworld's Virtualization Guide Part 3 covers the pros and cons, and looks at which vendors and products you should choose.

Another vital consideration when moving to virtual desktops is whether you want to own the infrastructure as well as the service, the service only, or get rid of both. In practice, this means moving to some degree of hosted virtual desktops.

See part 2 of our Virtualization Technology Guide — Thinking outside the virtual square

Also think about whether to go for a partially hosted model — where the virtual desktops are hosted by the provider, but you control their design — or the fully hosted model, where everything VDI is done for you.

Which one to go for is a strategic decision that will depend on the size of your organisation. Smaller businesses will find full service hosting attractive as they do not have an IT resource internally and this solves the problem.

Traditionally, however, this model does not work for medium to large organisations as they do not want to outsource core services and data to a third party. Hosting virtualised desktop with supporting server services provides an opportunity to maintain control and management of desktops, services and applications but get out of managing the supporting infrastructure. It is a clear line between services, security and plumbing.

Either way, before considering whether to go the hosted VDI route, you need to be in a clear position to define the roles and responsibilities of the hosted provider and have the right processes in place to measure and manage the outcome, VMware’s Wakeman says.

See the full Virtualization Technology Guide - Definition, Vendors, Products

It makes logical sense that hosted desktops provide the opportunity to only manage the user’s workspace, applications and data (the core intellectual property of any business) and let someone else own the plumbing.

Quantifying the benefits, however, requires a strong sense of the current cost of internal hosting and managing desktops in order to assess the benefits of letting a host provide this service, Wakeman says. Throwing bad process with no way to measure cost/success over the fence to a host may not provide results or foster a strong customer–provider relationship.

If your strategy is to move to cloud services and you have the right policy, management, platform and security in place, the benefits to hosting should be apparent immediately. Organisations that are not in this position should possibly plan a more evolutionary migration to cloud by perhaps consolidating on internal cloud services (server and desktop virtualization) and plan a path to migrate to external cloud hosted services later as capacity requirements dictate.

For those pursuing the hosted path, Wakeman advises IT managers should ensure their desktops are hosted in an industry standard cloud hosted service. Many hosted services provide a proprietary service that makes it very difficult to move services from one provider to another. It is another area where the virtualization platform is important strategically.

Next, Virtualization Technology Guide: Part 4 – Virtual desktop ‘gotchas’

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