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Virtual desktops: Do your own math

We can talk until we’re blue in the face about universal clients, ubiquitous data access and streamlined image management, but ultimately the question of whether virtual desktops make sense comes down to what IT decisions always come down to: money.

Johnathan,  a Server Virtualization blog reader, recently posted a comment on one of my posts detailing the math for a 250-seat virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)/thin-client implementation, which amounted to a $350 per-desktop-capex advantage for VDI; a three-times faster deployment schedule and troubleshooting times that were orders of magnitude faster (albeit harder to quantify). Not too shabby.

Of course, that was before VMware announced new pricing for its re-branded VDI suite, View 3. At $150 per seat for View Enterprise or $250 for View Premier, capex savings would decrease to $300 or $200 per desktop. That’s assuming you pay list price, which is highly doubtful. But it also doesn’t account for the storage capacity savings you might  realize by using View Composer to share desktop images: an average of 70%, according to VMware.

Suffice it to say that assigning ROI dollars to an IT project is a highly personal, subjective affair. And that the numbers posted by others are often suspect, as Bernard Golden points out in his article “Virtualization Projections Deserve Scrutiny.” Here, Golden looks into a Butler Group report that reports client virtualization savings of $159,000 for 1,000 desktops, or $159 per desktop, per year. Come to find out, the $159 savings was in energy costs alone. Who knows what the overall cost of the deployment really was?

At any rate, if you’ve done the math on a VDI implementation, and believe that your numbers bear scrutiny, go ahead and post the numbers in the comments section of our blog.

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For those who are interested, there's a conversation going on at Obama's transition site,, regarding the relative merits of virtualizing the datacenter in order to reduce carbon emissions. Worth weighing in....