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Desktop Virtualization Trends at Gartner Data Center

by Chris Wolf  |  December 10, 2012  |  5 Comments

At the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas last week I asked several polling questions regarding desktop virtualization adoption plans and trends, and thought that they were worth sharing. Note that the poll was taken in my session on “Desktop Virtualization: Tales from the Trenches,” so the audience was already at least considering the technology.

The first question I asked was regarding business drivers.


As you can see above, the majority of respondents wanted to use the technology to reduce TCO, while giving users a “Follow-me desktop” was a close second. We have multiple clients that have been able to reduce TCO 10% or higher, so the expectations are legitimate.

The next polling question looked at virtual desktop adoption goals.


Note that 11-30% seemed to be the sweet spot, while other organizations had more aggressive targets, and some had less. We talk to many clients that are using virtual desktops for a variety of use cases, so the range of answers was expected. Some healthcare organizations see the technology reaching the majority of their doctors and clinicians. Other verticals are using virtual desktops for remote worker and remote office support. In fact, I spoke to several clients at the conference who were expanding to Eastern Europe and the Asia Pacific regions. They didn’t want to hire any IT staff to manage the remote offices, so the virtual desktop was a sound investment for them.

I often get asked about virtual desktop vendor preferences and the survey respondents pointed to a near even split between Citrix and VMware, along with growing interest in Microsoft.


We still see Citrix having a slight edge among Gartner clients that we speak with each day; however, Citrix should take note of the poll response that several organizations see VMware as a capable alternative. Note that the poll sample was from 105 conference attendees.

The last question that I had asked was about storage preferences. This question was a little more involved and about half of the poll participants responded to this one.


Attendees could select multiple options, and while the enterprise storage array features were expected, the interest in the native hypervisor features such as IntelliCache and View Accelerator was a bit of a surprise. However, virtual desktops are capex-sensitive and when native platform technologies can be used, it’s a logical first option. Still, oftentimes specialized storage is closely evaluated by organizations looking to reduce their storage capex, and that’s where vendors like Nutanix and Tintri get a look. Also, we often see vendors like Atlantis Computing and FusionIO brought in to address storage performance scalability challenges as the environment grows to 1,000 or more users.

Our average client spends anywhere from 40-60% of their desktop virtualization budget on storage, so it’s really important to take the time to get the storage architecture right the first time. The alternative often involves going to the CFO six months into the project, saying “My bad,” and requesting more budget.

What do you think? Any surprises in this year’s polls?

Category: client-virtualization  

Tags: citrix  gartnerdc  microsoft  vmware  

Chris Wolf
Research VP
6 years at Gartner
19 years IT industry

Chris Wolf is a Research Vice President for the Gartner for Technical Professionals research team. He covers server and client virtualization and private cloud computing. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Desktop Virtualization Trends at Gartner Data Center

  1. I’m surprised that so many people are still putting their IT budgets for VDI into enterprise storage. With most customers trying to deploy non-persistent pools the need for shared storage is negligible, let alone enterprise shared storage. I’m also surprised that so many people are putting their faith in View Storage Accelerator and Intellicache as the read IO isn’t the hard problem to solve (it’s the write IO). We need to stop flocking to the shiny object and focus on the requirements.

  2. Andrew Wood says:

    +1 for Dan’s comment, although nice to see the follow-me desktop as a proper practical business function getting such a big mention

  3. Chris Wolf says:

    Great comments, Dan. I spent a good 10 minutes in my session describing the storage issues, specifically write I/O and the impact of change management. It’s still amazing how often people don’t plan for it. I also agree with your point on the read-only boot file. I have a slide with a series of builds that begins with the boot file on a SAN array, followed by it being cached to appear locally. I then told the audience that clients often ask “If I wind up caching it locally, then why not just store is locally in the first place?”

    The virtual desktop storage profile is so fundamentally different than server applications that organizations have to try different approaches. In addition, capex is a real issue and you need to look at lower cost alternatives to stay within a reasonable costs. Many clients I speak with want their entire infrastructure costs to be under $200/user, and what’s always interesting is that several still spend way more than that just on storage alone.

  4. Harry Labana says:

    Underlines how many customers still don’t get it. TCO driving factor, vodoo storage etc.

  5. Hi Chris

    Quick question:

    Desktop virtualization means different things to different people.

    Are we talking about all flavors of desktop virtualization here, or just SHVD (VDI) environments.



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