Justifying the Cost of Virtual Desktops: Take 2

Two years ago I did a post on how was I trying to justify VDI for a customer who was refreshing 40 desktops. In the end I don’t know what happened with that sale as I changed jobs about a month or two after I did the quote/post. After two additional years of working with customers I have to think I’ve learned a little more about justifying the costs of VDI so here are some more realizations that I’ve come to find are generally true when talking VDI. (Oh, and no this is probably not the year of VDI)

Edit: This actually is the year of VDI*

Realization #1

Most customers could really care less about power consumption. I know that sounds horrible, but most customers are running some type of machinery… especially if they are in the manufacturing or other industrial sectors… Those machines draw lots of power, so saving a few thousand watts is nothing to them. Now if you are doing a multi-thousand seat deployment power becomes more of a concern, but will still probably not be the tipping point.

Recommendation: Unless you have thousands of desktops to replace, or your company is really pushing a green effort, don’t waste your time trying to sell “going green”.

Realization #2

Almost no one I have worked with purchases Microsoft Software Assurance on their physical desktops. I contribute this to PC’s being so disposable, and SA on Windows Desktop software is about $100 bucks a year… So if you replace your desktops every three or four years you will probably have about as much money in SA as you would a new desktop.

Recommendation: Make sure to price Microsoft Windows 8 SA on your Physical desktop comparison quote. Also remember that SA is a yearly commitment. When you add that cost to your physical desktop quote, the Microsoft VDA license you need for VDI doesn’t taste quite as bad.

Realization #3

Many IT departments do not utilize a ticketing system for user requests. Without being able to put a value on the amount of time an IT department puts on re-imaging PC’s, or troubleshooting the stupid little problems that could easily be solved with a fresh image, or the time they spend updating or installing new software packages for users…there is really no way to show the efficiency increases that VDI brings to the table.

Recommendation: GET A TICKETING SYSTEM AND USE IT. It will make both of our jobs easier when we starting talking about VDI. Trust me though I know how much doing tickets and time enter sucks… I am certainly not a fan, but its a necessary evil, and it will also be useful when you want to hire another help desk guy too… it certainly doesn’t hurt anything to get a system in place.

Realization #4

Many businesses don’t realized the value of working from home. When weather keeps employees at home, does the business really need to close that day? Of course not, but if you can’t deliver the SAME desktop to a user at home, as you do at the office their productivity will not be the same. Solutions have existed for years to allow people to work remote, yet some people are just discovering the technology.

Recommendation: Put a value on a snow day; put a value on a single key employee taking a whole day off for personal appointments that may only consume an hour or two. Then determine how many times a year that stuff happens. I bet that if your policy was more flexible so employees could have flexible hours (since they can access their desktop any time) productivity would actually go up. Same for snow days… grab some hot chocolate, your laptop, and get workin…. no need to chance wrecking your car trying to get to the office. And most importantly…trust your employees. The employees worth keeping around will appreciate being able to work from home and company moral will certainly improve.


*APRIL FOOLS… this isn’t the year of VDI


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4 Responses to "Justifying the Cost of Virtual Desktops: Take 2"

  1. On a one to one basis licensing costs (OS, VDI, and Virtual Server) for a virtual desktop is higher than the cost of a physical desktop over four years and you still need physical hardware to access your virtual. There are huge infrastructure costs for most organizations to get the Server, Storage, and Network performance needed to successfully run VDI.

    In addition any staffing and support savings comes after huge investment in man hours for implementation, training, establishment of procedures and standards, and end user training. A smaller support staff makes turn over more impactful and filling new positions requires a longer and more expensive search for more expensive employees with higher skills.

    The year of VDI will come when your Virtual Desktop comes from the Cloud and your desktop support is a remote service.

  2. Speaking from bad experience don’t try and do VDI on the cheap using VDI in a Box or something similar, nothing but trouble, misery, and terrible support. If your org can’t pony up money for shared storage don’t even attempt VDI with local storage, that is just a bad, bad, bad idea.

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