Virtualization Solutions Options

Last Updated:
April 11, 2024

Virtualization Solutions Options

If you’re looking for virtualization software solutions, there are many options available to address many computing scenarios.

What are Virtualization Solutions?

Broadly speaking, “virtualization” is defined as software that creates a virtual (rather than actual) version of an operating system or a physical computing device, like a server, data storage, or a network.

Virtualization has been around for decades. The first virtual solution was introduced in 1968 by IBM in a new mainframe computer with the CP/CMS system. The CP (Control Program) acted as a hypervisor layer between the hardware and the virtual machine (VM), enabling creation of multiple virtual machines on a single mainframe.

At that time, computer hardware was so expensive that many organizations could not afford their own mainframe. Companies would share time on a mainframe for tasks that could be done faster and more accurately by a computer. IBM’s new mainframe with the CP/CMS system could accommodate increased customer demand for computing time on a single mainframe by creating multiple virtual machines that could run different programs in parallel.

Sound familiar?

Today, there are three primary types of virtualization solutions:

Server Virtualization: running multiple instances of operating systems on the same hardware. The hypervisor creates software partitions on a single piece of hardware. Each partition, or virtual server, runs its own operating system and applications. Virtualized servers are typically accessed by IT admins, not end users.

Application Virtualization: running an application on a separate software layer that sits between the device’s operating system and the application. Application virtualization is used by individuals who want to run a specific piece of software on hardware whose OS does not support that software—for example, a developer writing Linux software using a PC.

Desktop Virtualization: simulating an end user desktop environment that’s accessed from an end user device via a network or the internet. The desktop runs on virtualization software running on a hypervisor that runs on a physical machine or a virtual machine running on a physical machine. Desktop virtualization products are generally referred to as Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) solutions.


Virtualization Solution Benefits

The biggest overall benefit of virtualization is the ability to fully leverage a piece of expensive hardware. That can mean running multiple virtual servers or network controllers on one bare metal server (server virtualization), running Linux applications on a Microsoft® Windows® PC (application virtualization), or accessing a virtual desktop using a local device to enable remote application access (desktop virtualization) from a centralized server.  

Virtualization also offers flexibility in how an organization leverages hardware and accommodates change. With VDI, a single server can be utilized for many different purposes by running multiple VMs, each running a different process. VMs can be spun up or closed down in minutes dictated by corporate need, contributing to organizations’ ability to react rapidly to change. Virtualization can also extend the life of older hardware, for example using a 5-year-old PC to run a Windows 11 virtual desktop.

Focusing on VDI

Because virtualization solutions address such a wide range of use cases, virtualization technology buyers need to focus on a specific use case to determine the best solution for their computing challenge. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on desktop virtualization, aka Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) solutions.

Using VDI, IT can simulate Windows user workstations (or desktops) that users can access on a physical device using a corporate network or access remotely using the internet. To the user, the desktop looks as though it’s running on the local machine while the desktop is actually running on a physical or virtual server in a private or public cloud.

VDI Benefits

For organizations employing users in a variety of roles that work in a variety of locations, VDI allows IT to control which employees get access to which applications based on their role at the company, controlling costs, enabling consistency, encouraging productivity, and making it easier to secure corporate applications and data.

VDI allows IT admins to efficiently apply patches and updates on the server rather than one very physical machine. VDI solutions also provide IT administrators and helpdesk personnel with tools to monitor desktop performance and troubleshoot and solve employees’ computing issues. Finally, VD supports business continuity and makes it easier to secure valuable company data since applications and data are centralized in a data center or the cloud and not living on employees’ devices.

VDI Drawbacks

VDI is highly complex, and startup costs are high in terms of hardware, software, people, and time. Planning and implementation can take many months, moving attention away from critical IT responsibilities and meeting with significant user fear and resistance. Additionally, planning, building, implementing, managing, and maintaining VDI environments requires a specific skillset that’s rare and highly sought-after—and thus highly expensive.

When using a virtual desktop, a good internet connection is essential to a good user experience, especially for resource-intensive applications. With a more remote workers than  ever before, IT can no longer be confident that every employee has corporate-level internet service. From the employee perspective, when low bandwidth internet service or local internet outages impact desktop performance, it’s easy to become frustrated, disengaged and less motivated.

Another VDI-related issue for employees is printing (VDI is notoriously bad at printing to local printers). Successful remote desktop printing when utilizing VDI is the result of the alignment of multiple requirements and dependencies—which employees don’t understand or care about when they need to print out a document for an upcoming meeting or sales call.

Finally, most employees don’t understand what VDI is, which may lead to users starting multiple sessions, resorting to elaborate workarounds to avoid using their corporate desktop, or simply using their local applications and possibly retaining valuable company documents and data on their physical device. Some employees are unwilling to wait for what can be a lengthy login, or become impatient with their virtual desktop’s slow performance. This user unhappiness translates into an increase in helpdesk calls, reduced productivity, and employee angst.

Is VDI Right for Every Company?

While VDI is great for companies who want to control and securely deliver multiple applications in a managed desktop to employees located anywhere, it’s also complex, expensive, and challenging. IT organizations considering VDI or currently managing a VDI implementation should be prepared to manage and mitigate VDI challenges within the organization to ensure success.

VDI is best for medium to large enterprises where employees use a variety of productivity applications to get their work done. But what about organizations that need to make one or a few applications available to end users—for example, Windows® ISVs? Will an investment in hardware and software infrastructure and employees skilled in managing VDI environments pay off for those ISVs?

Probably not.

ISVs that want to make Windows applications available to customers should use GO-Global® instead of VDI virtualization solutions.

GO-Global is an alternative to VDI for ISVs that want to publish Windows applications from any public, private, or hybrid cloud, to customers using devices that support a browser.

Using GO-Global, ISVs can deliver Windows applications to customers located anywhere at up to 70% less than VDI.

Despite its low cost, GO-Global delivers enterprise-level scalability but is easy to install, configure, and use, with considerably less technology overhead required for implementation and provides a great customer experience, including fast logins and minimal latency, even over low-bandwidth connections. And GO-Global’s Universal Print Driver eliminates printing issues, so customers can print documents without resorting to inconvenient workarounds.

To learn more, request a demo here or download a free 30-day trial.

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