VDI, or desktop virtualisation has been “the next big thing” for several years now. The term was coined back in 2005 and pundits have regularly come forward since then to tell us we are on the cusp of widespread adoption.
Well now it’s my turn.
Some important shifts in technology, big name release schedules and market consolidation have already taken place in the virtualisation, datacentre and hosted services areas.
Combine this with the imminent operating system upgrade that will become necessary in enterprises still attached to Windows XP and factor in the market’s ever sharper focus on operating margins and we have a perfect storm.
Already we have seen licensing changes from Microsoft for its Virtual Enterprise Centralised Desktop and closer partnership with Citrix, aimed at easing the migration to the virtual.
VMware and EMC of course still dominate the market and will be looking to extend that leadership into the blossoming VDI market. The two giants of systems integration and Everything as a Service, IBM and HP each have their own preferred partners and are already aggressively marketing their solutions.
The release of Windows 7 is adding fuel to the fire. The latest desktop operating system from Microsoft appears to have much wider enterprise acceptance than its predecessor and has led many companies to begin their long overdue desktop refresh program (along with the slow demise of Windows XP). In these more straitened economic times driving down the cost of these projects is key and VDI offers a third way where TCO, cost of deployment and cost of management are minimised. A good indicator of the prevailing mood is the ITIC 2010 Global Virtualization Deployment and Trends Survey which polled 800+ businesses worldwide in December 09 and Jan 10. It indicated that 31 per cent of respondents plan to implement VDI in 2010; which is more than double the 13 per cent that said they would undertake a VDI deployment in the same survey a year earlier.
One of the key problems for enterprise scale VDI deployments is going to be effective security. Traditional security solutions can be highly resource intensive, even in the traditional non-virtualised environment. As soon as all those individual clients are hosted in a centralised hypervisor environment those resource requirements come under some pretty uncomfortable pressure. The 9am problem where all users fire up their virtualised desktop simultaneously; or the 3am log-jam where each of the desktops is doing its regular scheduled scan at the same time can bring the physical hardware to its knees, unless tasks and resource contention are carefully managed, or better, VDI aware.
The security industry needs to be an enabler in the move to the lower-cost, more agile, greener world of VDI. We need to ensure that we are building technology designed to tightly integrate in this changed enterprise landscape; technology that transparently adapts between physical and virtual deployments under a common management infrastructure. Otherwise, in the drive to lower operating costs and increase business agility, effective security might find itself the first casualty.