IT turns to virtualization to support mobile users

Increased user mobility and IT consumerization are creating big headaches for IT. But there is one tool that may help organizations deal with those issues: 

Desktop virtualization.

More than half of companies are considering or have already deployed desktop virtualization, according to a recent survey from Barclays Capital.

Currently, 34% of IT departments are considering desktop virtualization. Another 12% have already completed a deployment, and 10% are planning to finish a deployment by the end of 2012, according to the poll of 100 CIOs.

One big driver is cost, as many respondents said they’ll use virtualization to decrease the number of full-fledged PCs they need to purchase for users. With virtualization, most software and hardware resources are housed on a central server and accessed by a dumb terminal. Organizations can either purchase stripped down machines to use as terminals, or even re-purpose old PCs that would otherwise be decommissioned.

The reduction in cost has been one of the most commonly cited benefits of desktop virtualization for several years.

But there’s another big motivator that’s appeared more recently: increased employee mobility. These days, users don’t just work while they’re in the office — they also get work done while they’re home, or on mobile devices while they travel.

Many survey respondents said they’re using or considering virtualization because it can allow users to access the same desktop from multiple devices in multiple locations.

Desktop virtualization may also help companies deal with one of their newest IT security concerns: users working with sensitive data on personal mobile devices. Many organizations are looking into using virtualization clients on smartphones and tablets so that users can access critical data and applications without actually storing them on the devices themselves.

Has your organization implemented desktop virtualization? What benefits and challenges did you see? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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