Windows 7 migration driving desktop virtualization: Survey

A substantial minority of IT managers are taking the opportunity provided by rolling out Windows 7 to also deploy desktop virtualization according to a global Forrester survey conducted for Dimension Data.

The survey, which received 50 responses from Australia, found that 38 per cent of the IT managers were timing their investment in desktop and application virtualization with Windows 7 migration because both had a direct impact on each other.

In addition 34 per cent of the IT managers surveyed were currently in the process of deploying Windows 7, while 14 per cent planned to roll out the operating system in the next six months. Just over 46 per cent of the IT managers surveyed said that they were still supporting XP, while 10.7 per cent were looking after Vista.

Half of the respondents put desktop virtualization as a high priority over the next one to two years, while 26 per cent deemed it low on their list of priorities.

Dimension Data Microsoft solution group general manager, Peter Menadue, said the desktop virtualization figures were interesting as the company had noted over the last 18 months that some of its customers were considering desktop virtualization in order to fast track an upgrade from the Windows XP operating system to 7.

"We’ve certainly seen that because many organisations deployed Windows XP and they want to refine desktop deployment and management," he said. "IT managers also don’t want to repeat what they did last time because that was 10 years ago with XP."

According to Menadue, if enterprises did undertake desktop virtualization in conjunction with a Windows 7 upgrade, than it would "be much simpler" than the old environment of moving from XP to Windows 7.

"It’s not just about the operating system but updating the whole environment and desktop virtualization is seen as key to that."

Other drivers to desktop virtualization included the widely dispersed Australian population. For example, there are many organisations that either work in offices in a distributed fashion or work from home or on the road.

Other drivers for virtualization were costs, decreasing IT complexity and driving bring-your-own technology (BYOT). The survey also asked respondents what operational models they were considering as they planned desktop virtualization.

Forty four per cent wrote that they planned to use Cloud-hosted or software-as-a-service while 26 per cent cited Cloud-hosted desktops-as-a-service as the preferred operating model. Menadue said this was "no surprise" as virtualization could be a key step along the road to Cloud.

"The way in which applications or data is extracted away and broken out can be good learning's for when you get someone else to run those services in the Cloud," he said.

"Virtualization can also help to formalise how organisations run their own Cloud or how they leverage hosted public or private Cloud offerings."

BYOT technology

Thirty one per cent of Australian IT managers surveyed were still in the planning stages of implementing BYOT programs, but 22 per cent had piloted BYOT to select end users. Only three per cent had a BYOT program in place.

However, Menadue said he expected to change in the future because self provisioning, lower costs and preferences by end users to use devices they were familiar to, such as iPads, were driving BYOT adoption.

“I think the numbers reflect in Australia a level of sophistication around understanding the complexity of [BYOT]. I wouldn’t go as far to say there is conservatism because that is not the case," he said.

"BYOT is not just around giving people technology but its impact in terms of legal compliance, liability, operational processes and cost implications. There is interest here in reducing cost through self-service IT but also supporting this trend and giving people what they want from their home environment."

Menadue added that the adoption lags a little bit behind the interest in exploring BYOT because of those issues.

"The other one we’re seeing in the Australian market is staff attraction and retention is a key issue in a tighter employment market," he added.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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