Cloud computing literature is still rare in terms of concrete analyses on cost, benefits, and gaps of a cloud project, even (and especially) for specific scenarios. The simple reason? It’s usually complex, and implementing a real case can be full of surprises if done without an initial careful feasibility analysis. I was lucky just yesterday to stumble over one of those rare examples, and while I sit in the plane to AUH I got the idea to share this with you.
It’s about Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), moving physical desktop resources to the cloud, by virtualization veteran Jake McTigue. I am a big believer in VDI for 10 years now, since the early days the Sunrays came up the horizon. And, yes, vendors will all tell you how great VDI’s benefits are:
– leveraging your (existing and often not fully utilized) servers in the datacenter
– utilizing high availability of your (already virtualized) servers for your desktops
– moving desktop pools between servers to accommodate maintenance and failures
– replacing thick desktops by power-efficient and configuration-free thin clients
– deploying groups of homogeneous desktops collectively in a pool configuration
– delivering (much!) better security and data management
However, as Jake points out in his report, ROI is still entirely dependent on IT’s ability to integrate business processes with the unique features of VDI. It is very important to complete an organizational pre-virtualization assessment to determine the current strengths and needs, and how VDI will impact a number of areas. The author recommends eight steps to perform such a feasibility assessment:
1. Determine whether the cost of more expert data center staff can be offset by needing fewer people to administer the physical desktops.
2. Determine how much desktop customization you need.
3. Determine your present level of virtualization adoption.
4. Determine your security and compliance posture as it pertains to desktops.
5. Determine if you’ll purchase thin clients or continue to use PCs, and examine network connectivity costs.
6. Are we willing to put VDI-related policies in place—and enforce them?
7. Determine if an improved endpoint disaster recovery strategy can yield savings.
8. Determine possible power savings.
VDI can contribute to major cost savings—or it can be a very expensive desktop replacement. Most IT groups are impressed with the functionality and security of VDI deployments, but if you don’t have policies and metrics in place to gauge the effect on your organization across all areas, don’t expect to achieve the maximum ROI. The nice thing with the report I mentioned previously is that the methodology described there may also serve as a guideline to establish a similar pre-cloudification assessment strategy for any other cloud deployment in your organization. The report can be downloaded from www.analytics.informationweek.com.