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360-degree virtualization

Sheila Lam | Oct. 25, 2011
Windows 7 migration and mobility are driving uptake towards client virtualization

"Staff increasingly desire connectivity to corporate data and personal information in a single device," he said. "We need to be very careful when to say 'no' to the users. We are here to make that available, but we don't want to expose any corporate data to the public."

While introducing mobility for users to access corporate email and calendaring via their personal smartphones, the company has a strict mobility policy. The company supports only iPhones and Blackberry devices and no jail-broken devices are allowed. Users are also required to provide company authorization to monitor and wipe all data from the devices if necessary.

Apart from enabling mobility, Swiss Re also explored the option of client virtualization to support its outsourcing partner in India. The company's tight security policy is restricting the partner in PCs access and hardware choice, bringing a lot of inefficiency. To allow them to operate more independently and securely, Swiss Re was considering client virtualization.

Similar security concern have also driven companies like LG and Huawei to turn towards desktop virtualization for their R&D users to protect the companies' intellectual property rights, added Victor Thu, senior product marketing manager, Citrix Systems.

Why is not everyone virtualizing?

All the cases appear to paint a beautiful picture for client virtualization. Then, why it has yet to hit mainstream adoption?

"No doubt the success in server virtualization is bringing more attention towards client virtualization," explained Thu. "But, unlike server virtualization, client virtualization does not come with an immediate cost saving in hardware."

Riding on the success and positive feedback from server virtualization, many enterprises are exploring desktop virtualization as the natural progression towards achieving efficiencies and cost savings. But the expectation of upfront cost efficiency often creates a gap to reality, as client virtualization deployment often require upfront investment to new servers, added Victor Wong, regional director, Hong Kong & Taiwan at Citrix Systems.

"Customers often make plans for client virtualization with the expectation of cost savings or simply seeing it as a terminal replacement project," said Wong. "To have a successful deployment, it has to solve a business issue or problem, regardless of increasing flexibility, protecting IP rights or securing sensitive data."

User experience trumps all

While making accurate estimations of TCO and meeting ROI is critical to the success of the project, Thu added the ultimate factor that make or break any client virtualization deployment is user-experience.

"Client virtualization requires a lot more details," added Thu. "If e-mail doesn't come for five seconds, it's OK. But if users move the mouse and it doesn't respond for five seconds, you will be in trouble."

He said the first critical step is understanding the users, the applications they are using, the OS that are running on their devices and the network they are connected to, is. Such understanding builds the foundation in determining the type of client virtualization technologies to be chosen.


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