Is desktop virtualisation picking up steam?
CIOs around the world are looking at desktop virtualisation. They have done server virtualisation, and understand the benefits. Now, with Windows 7, there is an opportunity for them to relook at desktop virtualisation and we are working with Microsoft to take this into mainstream this year.
Desktop virtualisation is definitely gaining steam, and we have been doing application virtualisation for the last 20 years. We have around 25,000 customers worldwide who have centralised and brought applications into the data centre, and deliver it as a service. It is exactly the same idea behind desktop virtualisation, and in the last three years, we have had around 3,000 customers deploying the technology and many POCs (proof of concept) are underway this year.
When you centralise the desktop, just like apps, you gain security and control, in addition to agility. Besides, when you host your desktop in the data centre, and if you want to bring in a new employee or start a new branch, you turn it on as a service and save on costs. Right now, delivering and managing a PC can cost you anywhere between $1,500-5,000 a year, and by centralising and delivering desktops as a service you stand to save up to 40% as compared to traditional desktops.
Unlike server virtualisation, there are no clear ROI metrics for desktop virtualisation. And there are significant upfront costs involved in adopting this technology. Is that slowing down the adoption?
Server virtualisation ROI is easy to calculate, as it can be easily split into clear capital costs. Desktop virtualisation is more about operations cost. I can give you the example of a school district which virtualised their desktop environment. Before, they used to get 60 calls a day to fix things, and now it is zero calls. Though there is an upfront cost element, there is a strong business case around desktop virtualisation – you can expect the payback over a period of 2-3 years. What is really accelerating the adoption now is the migration to Windows 7. If you have 1,000s of PCs, you can either refresh those, or you can take that budget and apply that to desktop virtualisation. So the next time there is a new application or OS, you have to refresh and manage only the copy you keep in the data centre.
You have recently come out with the version 4 of Xendesktop. What is new?
With this new release, we have combined XenApp and XenDesktop into one product. So with one simple price and license, customers can choose from different desktop virtualisation deployment methods – server based, virtual machined based VDI model, blade, which is specific to 3D graphics, or OS streaming. Microsoft has also simplified its pricing and licensing model. In the past, you had to pay an extra fee to move the OS into data centre. Now, if you are a Microsoft customer under subscription, you get that for free.
Have you made changes to the licensing model as well? Can users now pay by the number of devices?
There are two models. One is you can buy the license per user. So think of you as a user, who can access your desktop using thin client, iPhone or a Windows Mobile device. In other words, one user and as many devices as you want. The other side is many users per device.
Citrix has expanded its relationship with Microsoft. Are you going against VMware as a team?
Apart from simplified licensing, we have announced product integration with Microsoft. For example, Microsoft System Center, their management tools, can now control XenDesktop and XenApp. We have also a joint collaboration by integrating Citrix HDX into Microsoft’s Remote FX platform to deliver high performance applications over diverse network. Another initiative under the multi-year joint collaboration is the kick-start programme for any customer with up to 250 users who can purchase combined Microsoft and Citrix technologies to deliver hosted desktops for $28 per PC.