The case for DV


Desktop Virtualisation is Ridiculous

Having been involved in a bunch of projects with DV where it has been forced on me from on high (against my advise) I can say with some confidence that there are very few environments where it actually works.

The biggest problem is that most people's networks aren't robust enough. With "1 PC per desk" setups if the network fails then people can often carry on working. With virtualisation solutions a single network outage affects everyone. In many organisations with 1 PC per desk, if someone's machine fails at a critical time (say accounts running the payroll), they can often walk to another PC near to them and carry on working - not the same in a DV world. Most organisations don't have twin data centre's with synchronised data between them, and robust networks running out.

The next problem is that you still need terminals. This article seems to sidestep that issue completely. Either you expect people to use their own machines - which has it's own issues - or you provide machines - when you are back at square one. I've seen precisely one organisation that actually put in dumb terminals connected direct to the data centre - and that was a bank on a trading floor. They actually had the robust network and data centre necessary. But it certainly wasn't a cheap option - the main reason they did it was the building they were in didn't have powerful enough air-con and power for the trading floor to be stacked with computers.

Next PCs on desks are easy to get support staff for, complex virtualisation solutions need lots of network and back end staff. And a network guy probably costs you 2-4 times more than the PC support tech.

Finally, the experience just isn't the same. For users doing basic computing (like word processing, etc.) they might as well be using the low spec machine you are using as terminals. For high end users the DV solution is appalling. Video is poor, graphics intensive applications (like CAD systems etc.) just don't work properly.

What DV is is overkill for the bottom end, underpowered for the top end, and less robust than a distributed solution. And, at least in my experience, it never costs less in the end.


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