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2010 Predictions - Desktop Virtualization Goes Mainstream: What students in India are teaching the Fortune 500

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2010?  Find out in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed Article By Raj Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, NComputing, Inc.

2010 Predictions - Desktop Virtualization Goes Mainstream: What students in India are teaching the Fortune 500

There's an old saying that you can tell who the pioneers are because they're the ones with the arrows in their backs. Granted, the pioneers don't always have a choice in the matter. You take the cards that you are dealt and you live with the technology that is available to you. But the second-movers-those who for some reason are able to skip a generation of technology-they can leap right to a better solution. They are not shackled by the constraints of obsolete and legacy architectures.

Perhaps the best known example of this phenomenon is mobile phones in emerging markets. Why string phone lines when you can erect cost-efficient cellular towers? Many regions are smartly skipping a generation of landline telephony that made sense when it was the only game in town, but has since been eclipsed by more affordable and useful technology. The numbers are clear: according to Vital Wave Consulting, since 2002, mobile penetration in emerging markets has grown 321% compared to 46% in developed countries.

Today there is a parallel trend in the unsustainable one-PC-per-person model. The skip-to-the-best-available solution is desktop virtualization that is less expensive to buy, less expensive to maintain, and done so without sacrificing any computing performance.

In short, spearheaded by emerging markets and now the enterprise, 2010 is poised to be the breakout year for desktop virtualization.

Emerging Markets Lead the Way

To underscore the rising prominence of desktop virtualization, look at the massive rollouts of virtual desktops in Brazil, India, Pakistan, and even the landlocked Republic of Macedonia, which was the first country to implement a nationwide 1:1 computing program in its schools.

Let's be clear, the virtualization technologies that get adopted in emerging markets offer an immediate return on investment.  This is not technology that relies on TCO savings (pay me more today, but save tomorrow), which is quickly relegated to a niche market populated with cash-rich true believers.  In fact, neither emerging markets nor many enterprises have the capital to invest in a technology that requires a heavy front-end investment with the promise of future savings.

A Better Way to Computing

So what have Macedonia, India, and Pakistan all discovered? They are all using desktop virtualization to share the excess power of regular low-cost PCs. You see, a number of years ago, Moore's Law smashed right through a barrier that no one seemed to notice: the PCs for which we spend an average of $700 each have much more power than we need. In fact, the average office user only needs about three to five percent of their PC. The rest is wasted. It is wasted electricity, heat, and worst of all, it is wasted opportunity.

The new and better way is to share the excess power with multiple users. Part of the key is to use inexpensive PCs as servers. This harkens back to the development of RAID. Remember, the "I" stands for inexpensive. RAID is a smarter way to take what you already have available (inexpensive disk drives) and to creatively and affordably create a better solution. Six inexpensive disk drives plus an intelligent controller deliver much more speed and reliability that six drives alone.

By the same token, intelligent virtualization and multimedia-aware protocols can carve up the excess capacity in a desktop or server and deliver it to multiple users in a way that the users have no idea that they don't have their own computer. After all, a handy definition of virtual is that you know that you have it (but you really don't!).

Enterprises Take Notice of Desktop Virtualization

By our count, there are over 15 million people who access computing and the Internet via shared computing every day. And, as evidenced by the large projects mentioned above, emerging markets are leading the way.

The reverse technology transfer is also happening, that is, an uptick in enterprise rollouts of shared-computer desktop virtualization has been hastened by the worldwide financial meltdown and dismal global economy. And the enterprise buyers are adapting the technology to their own needs, re-evaluating the efficiency of how the enterprise purchases and consumers computing power. For example, by combining machine virtualization with shared-computing desktop virtualization, an enterprise can take this technology-that has proven cost-effective scaled down as low as two users-and scale it up to thousands of users hosted in data centers with proportionally scaled benefits.  Once people experience the same user experience at a fraction of the price, they don't return to the older, inefficient mode.

The lesson is clear: the old economic model of desktop computing is not sustainable. What we need is a change in our consumption patterns. The good news is that a better architecture that is becoming inevitable as global IT makes an inexorable migration. It may be funny to think of Fortune 500 companies playing catch-up with one-room schools in rural India, but that is, in fact, what is happening. Shareholders will benefit from more efficient capital management. The world will benefit from the 10X reduction in e-waste and greenhouse gas emissions. It is once again time for the pioneers to take a look at the new leaders.

About the Author

Raj Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, NComputing, Inc.

Raj Shah is the Chief Marketing Officer of NComputing and leads the marketing and business development efforts. Raj brings 20+ years of business management experience spanning start-ups, growth stage companies and F500 corporations. Prior to NComputing, Raj was the CMO of ClearCube Technology, the pioneer in PC blade computing systems. Raj was the co-founder of SiteStuff, a leading e-procurement service for commercial property management firms (acquired by Yardi Systems). He also served as VP of Marketing of pcOrder (acquired by Trilogy).

Raj was also a senior manager at McKinsey & Company, a leading management consulting firm. At McKinsey, Raj helped Fortune 500 clients in the technology, consumer goods, retail and manufacturing sectors improve their operations, marketing, and organizational effectiveness. Raj began his career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and GBC. Raj has an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Northwestern) and a bachelor of science in Accounting.

Published Thursday, December 24, 2009 6:44 AM by David Marshall
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