Windows Desktop Virtualization Seminar

At the beginning of this year I got into touch with some folks from SearchDatacenter.de, a website provided by TechTarget.  They asked me if I wanted to deliver a vendor-independent one-day seminar diving into the technical details of virtual desktops.  After thinking a second or two I said “Yes, sure”.  The reason for such an immediate positive response was that I had the pleasure to get my hands dirty with different VDI solutions during the previous weeks and months.  Now this seminar gives me the opportunity to share my experience with other experts.  If you want to sign up for the seminar, here is the link: http://de.amiando.com/seminar-virtualisierung-von-windows-desktops.html (in German).

I don’t have any VDI vendor preference as long as the underlying product is about providing Windows desktops – as a side note I have to admit that the times when I had some first-hand expertise with UNIX or Linux are long gone.  The products and services that I’m currently working on for making a living are designed to be compatible to any Windows desktop delivery mechanism.  This makes me an unbiased Windows desktop guy, but with a long history in the remote desktop market.  And let’s face it, in many aspects a virtual Windows desktop is only a new flavor of the good old remote desktop Kool-Aid.  So with the knowledge of the latest VDI products and a solid background in what used to be server-based computing I would regard myself as a “seasoned” VDI expert – LOL.  I love VDI from a technology perspective even though I’m not sure yet if it will rock the world at a commercial level.

The outline of my VDI seminar is straight forward. Here is what I will do – but remember, the initial seminar series will be in German language:

  1. Briefly introduce the basic concepts of virtualization and the typical target audience for the different virtualization types.  All this brings us to a common understanding of what desktop virtualization really is, why we want to deal with it and who it may be good for.
  2. Describe – and sometimes demo – the end-to-end VDI solutions offered by Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Quest and other vendors.  This will be fun stuff for tekkies.  It’s particularly interesting to see how far you can get with Microsoft products and components only.
  3. Use demos, pre-recorded performance videos and some nasty charts to compare the VDI solutions when using them in selected real-life scenarios.  Before you ask: Yes, user expectations, network requirements, storage concepts, licensing models, thin client aspects and cost calculations are included.
  4. Scare attendees by highlighting the major challenges encountered with VDI and try to make them relax again by suggesting solutions.  Sneak preview: Unfortunately, not all VDI challenges have simple solutions yet.
  5. Predict the future as good as possible by envisioning upcoming VDI improvements and looking at alternatives, such as client hypervisors.

The seminar is scheduled for September at four different locations in Germany.  SearchDatacenter.de started promoting the event and since then I’m hearing a constant rattle and hum in some German social networks.  Seriously, I didn’t expect so much noise.  Typically Germans are, um, a little bit conservative when dealing with new IT concepts.  And I know what I’m talking about; I was born, raised and educated in Germany even though I’m working for a Dutch company now.

German IT managers tend to ask questions like “Is it mature enough?”, “Is it secure?”, “Does it save money?”, “Does it give me full control?”, “Does it really fit into our company structure?”, “Does it add or does it remove complexity?” when a new IT concept is involved.  Don’t get me wrong, these are valid questions and the answers will most certainly help making solid decisions.  It’s against German IT habits to introduce a new technology just because it’s cool – which makes German IT well organized and predictable but boring sometimes.  And now I’m learning that many German organizations already started their VDI projects or that they are seriously planning to get started in the near future.  That’s awesome!  I mean, this tells me that either German IT habits changed overnight or that VDI is on a good way to become a commonly accepted standard.

However, there is one important question that I’m not able to answer yet: Will virtual desktops replace the majority of traditional physical desktops?  When talking to VMware or thin client vendors the answer is clear.  But when talking to Microsoft the message is somewhat different.  Microsoft says that even though virtual desktops are potentially good for all organization this concept may not work for all user groups.  In other words: The future is still wide open.  But does this mean that VDI may just turn out to become a tactical solution selected by IT professionals when trying to solve a particular problem?  Maybe or maybe not.

But there’s one thing that is for sure: When introducing a virtual desktop infrastructure it’s all about making the right technical decisions, because it’s first the users and then the IT administrators that matter.  And this is exactly the perspective from which I will be looking at VDI in my seminar.