Government agencies make move to desktop virtualization

These government agencies are reaping the early benefits of moving to desktop virtualization.

With efficiency programs in full swing, virtualization is high on the list of priorities for federal, state and local governments throughout the U.S. In fact, virtualization is third on a list of five major technologies that the federal government will support with big spending increases in the years to come, according to Input, a market research firm.

Much of the action has been on the server virtualization side, where cost reductions are dramatic, but interest is growing in desktop virtualization as well. In a 2010 survey of 700 small, midsize and large companies and government agencies by Information Technology Intelligence Corp., 50% of the respondents said they had server virtualization initiatives under way, and 17% said they had begun desktop virtualization projects. That percentage will grow, according to Gartner Inc., which expects the virtual desktop market to rise from 500,000 units in 2009 to 49 million in 2013.

For governments, the main attractions of virtual desktops are ease of manageability and lower costs. "There's been a recognition that the cost of the IT infrastructure, added up across all agencies, has been more expensive than it needs to be," says Raymond Bjorklund, senior vice president at FedSources, a consulting firm in McLean, Va. "IT consolidation and virtualization provides a set of tools to help with that."

But because of the upfront investment required, the move to virtualized desktops will happen incrementally, Bjorklund says. "Dollars are appropriated to agencies on an annual basis, and Congress holds the purse strings," he says. "It's extremely hard for agencies to do a grand-scale project that requires investments for longer-term savings."

Here's a look at two local governments and one state agency that are making the first moves into desktop virtualization.

One Virtualization Leads to Another

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