The capital cost of virtual desktops has been a hot topic for some time now. As market interest in virtual desktops has grown, an increasing number of customers have faced the realization that the cost of servers, storage and networking is often more than the cost of physical PCs. The savings they targeted in operations and administration would be partly offset.
Over the last two years, the market has innovated to drive these costs down and unlock latent demand. Our ecosystem of partners has been at the vanguard of this, releasing a range of storage appliances that deliver significant cost savings through tiered storage approaches. This is exactly how markets should work.
With the release of Horizon 6, VMware has continued this progress and, for the first time, many organizations will now be able to see infrastructure cost parity between physical and virtual PCs. We’ll try to phrase that carefully, since no two deployments are the same and ‘mileage may vary’, but we firmly believe we can now begin to take concerns over capital costs out of the virtual desktop equation.
The key technology behind this is VMware Virtual SAN, which removes the need for a dedicated storage array. By working on a storage tier that is abstracted and pooled from the solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs) installed directly in x86 servers, Horizon 6 embraces Moore’s Law and the commoditization of volume servers to deliver significant cost reductions for the virtual desktop that scale with the deployment.
Virtual SAN requires little to no extra, up-front investment: you can start with as little as three servers with one HDD and one SSD in each. The pronounced ‘saw tooth’ investment pattern of storage arrays (with periodic ‘steps’ of investment to build out capacity or performance) can be avoided, leading to a far more linear relationship between user numbers and costs.
Like all of VMware’s platform enhancements, Horizon 6 with Virtual SAN simplifies operations: desktops can be easily provisioned and managed from the same ‘pane of glass’, with service level agreements (SLAs) streamlined and automated through a unique and simple storage policy based management. These enhancements will, without doubt, deliver ongoing operational savings, but it’s too soon to quantify these yet.
Through our work with customers, building business cases to support VMware View deployments, we already had clear evidence of the downward cost trends in virtual desktop infrastructure. Horizon 6 not only continues that trend, it also shows the promise of our efforts to embrace advances in the Software Defined Data Center: our message here is simple – expect even more!
By Brian Gammage and Rafael Kabesa, product marketing manager for cloud infrastructure at VMware