Are Pure Virtual Desktops only Successful in Virtual Markets?

Since almost two weeks, Shawn Bass and I teach Advanced Citrix Training Classes and present at Geek Speak Events in Norway and France. We had an audience of almost 30 training class students and 60+ event attendees. We always asked about the experience with virtual desktop infrastructures in production environments. The amazing outcome was that there was literally none. Sure, there are a number of proof-of-concept environments, but no real production environment with VDI – at least when talking to our peers in Norway and France. Only Shawn knows a US customer with several thousand users working on virtual desktops. But these desktops are dedicated desktops with private images on an expensive storage system.

I was never a fan of pure VDI. And again I’m asking myself if there is a real market for pure VDI? Or is it only a “virtual” market? According to articles published by several VDI experts and marketing material coming from serious software vendors, VDI seems to be the only future for them. But if this VDI market really exists somewhere, it better materializes fast, or investors may pull out there money and invest it into new stuff. And the media may fall in love with the next buzz word.

Another question I’m asking myself is what will happen to all the VDI POCs if this market never really takes off as expected? Will there be technical experts for de-virtualizing virtual desktops and anti-virtualization ghost writers cleaning up enterprise strategies by removing all references to VDI? This all may happen when people find out about some limitations with VDI that cannot be removed on short term, such as properly integrating TV overlay cards, video cameras, DVD burners, external harddisks, music players, modern cell phones or pen devices.

The virtualization war has just begun. Betting all your money on only a weapon called VDI seems not to be a smart move. So I would agree with Microsoft that VDI is good for all enterprises but not for all desktops. In particular for the users it’s the right technology mixture combined with usability that matters, not a vendor-driven one-for-all philosophy. The feedback I received from experts and peers over the last days and weeks reconfirms this statement and indicates that the world of desktops is not VDI flat. The surprising fact is that many virtualization expert out there seem to have silently accepted this already. Now they are waiting for the moment the “pure VDI flu” is over and they can go back to work and implement the full spectrum of virtualization technologies as needed.