A Case for VDI, Up Close and Personal

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Sep 16, 2008


VMworldLIVE From VMworld

True confession: I have a terrible track record when it comes to computers. Laptops, in particular, don't tend to last very long with me. Compounding that is a complete inability to remember to back up. (I bet you can guess where this is headed.) So when my computer blue-screened three times in a row in the Jet Blue "Cyber Lounge" at JFK, my first thought was, "Well, I guess I'm about due for a new one."

LIVE From VMworld: Getting to VMworld offered food for thought (and a bit of panic) on why the time may be right for the virtual desktop.

My second thought was *%$&%!. Everything is on that computer. From notes taken at VMworld pre-briefings to my calendar to other content set to run on ServerWatch this week. If ever there was a time that I wished I was more diligent with backups it was in that moment between the airport lounge and when I finally got the courage to turn it on again — 37,000 feet above Michigan.

Whether something in the airport was interfering or the Windows gods were messing with my head, I'll never know.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending and contingency plans (using press room and hotel business center computers, desperate pleas to PR reps via this column to e-mail via or call with times) can be abandoned before they had to fully cook. I also resolve in this moment to be better about backing up.

It did, however, get the gears going. First off, I was lucky. But what if I hadn't been? What if my meetings weren't to learn about products but to sell them? What if the data on my computer wasn't notes but mission-critical R&D?

Granted, if that were the case, I'd no doubt have a Blackberry or some sort of Internet-enable mobile device. But for purposes of this article let's assume they don't cut it, and for whatever reason my work needed to be done on a full screen.

Is storing data on individual laptop really necessary? Is virtualization the answer to this? VMware's latest strategy places as much weight on the client side (and by client, it doesn't just mean desktop) as the rest of the enterprise, and there are no shortage of companies from hardware vendors, like Sun, all the way down to small software-based start ups. Many of them are showing off their ware at VMworld this week and a large percentage of sessions are focused on the client side.

This isn't the first time user-side computer options have placed the bulk of computing power on the server. This just may be the time that it works, though. With cloud computing and people using software as a service type applications such as those offered my Google without a second thought, people are less concerned about where the actual application sits. To a large degree, at this point, mobility is more important than ownership.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001 and is currently in Las Vegas covering VMworld.

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