What are Virtual Desktops?
A virtual desktop has a virtual space that is larger than the physical size of its monitor. Software accomplishes this feature through various means, which may be classified into two general approaches. A switchable virtual desktop makes copies of the desktop and allows the user to switch between them. The second approach to virtual desktops is to create a single virtual screen that is larger than the physical screen. The user may then pan or scroll to view the desired area of the virtual screen.
Desktop managers often classify desktop environments according to their degree of virtualization, typically for the purpose of comparing costs and benefits. Virtual desktops generally benefit a business, particularly when they are implemented on a large scale. These benefits include direct costs which you can estimate with relative ease, and indirect costs which are more difficult to quantify.
The categories of desktop environments include the following in increasing order of virtualization:
- Typical traditional desktop
- Best practices traditional desktop
- Terminal services
- Managed virtual desktop
A typical traditional desktop environment requires each user to manage 30 to 50 percent of the desktop software. This percentage may be even higher in environments where the users are able to install software themselves, which increases support costs.
A best practices traditional desktop environment implements up to 95 percent of its software from a central location. This particularly includes distributed applications, software patches and anti-virus software.
A terminal services environment is the most conventional method of delivering applications to the desktop device from a remote location. This environment is most useful when other forms of desktop virtualization provide unacceptable performance due to bandwidth limitations. The virtualized applications typically use banks of servers, while the other applications are implemented by the end user.
A managed virtual desktop environment moves all memory, processing and storage from the desktop device to a centralized infrastructure. A user would then be able to access the virtual environment from any device set up by IT. This type of desktop environment is often used to transition a desktop environment to a cloud-based server.
Benefits of Virtual Desktops
The primary benefits of a virtual desktop solution include the ability to save the desktop’s state, which is saved on a server that is connected to the facility’s local area network. This feature allows users to begin a new session without needing to restart applications and reopen files. The IT team is able support a fully virtualized environment from a centralized location, which reduces the support required of the desktop devices.
A virtual desktop environment has improved information security and requires less network bandwidth since the desktop is presented on the end user’s device. This desktop environment also has more efficient data recovery services, greater protection against disasters and improved information security. A virtual desktop also improves the user’s overall experience, which increases productivity.
Cost Benefit Analysis of Virtual Desktops
Dell Services provides an analysis of the typical savings that a business can realize by converting a traditional desktop environment to a managed virtual desktop solution. These figures assume the facility has 1,000 desktops.
A managed virtual desktop solution will save a 1,000-desktop facility $300,000 per year by allowing the use of desktop devices that last longer and cost less. The savings in increased productivity will be approximately $294,000 per year. This savings come from better performance, including less downtime, shorter screen refreshes and faster logins. A savings of about $250,000 per year will come from a reduction in the number of calls to the help desk and fewer visits by technicians to the user’s desk. The reduced power consumption of virtual desktop devices will save an additional $60,000 per year. This analysis shows a total savings in internal costs of about $900,000 per year.