Even as enterprises have been increasingly testing the waters of desktop virtualization, a great number have stayed on the sidelines, a reluctance that can be explained in part by cost and concerns over a loss of PC performance.
Wanova is aiming to bridge that divide with an image-centralization technology that works much like a standard virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but with the added bonus of enabling a copy of the image to run on the end point. Wanova touts its solution as delivering both performance improvements and the flexibility to tap into multimedia applications without being connected to the network.
"VDI has driven the awareness that the centralization of PC images and single image management provides enterprises with lower desktop management total cost of ownership," said Barry Phillips, chief marketing officer at Wanova. "Image centralization also provides enterprises with some benefits that were unexpected because enterprises are used to the old model of managing thousands of individual PCs separately."
Among the benefits Wanova promises to deliver through its image centralization technology are a lower cost of ownership and simplified compliance burden, as well as the elimination of multiple steps toward PC recovery that typically come with file-based backup systems. Wanova boasts that its solution can re-image a PC and patch Windows as well as install corporate and personal apps and infrastructure software.
Additionally, the technology provides for centralized migration of Windows and hardware, automating a typically manual process to save both cost and time on the IT side, while also reducing downtime for users.
Wanova released version 3.0 of its flagship Mirage product last month, adding new features around centralized desktop management functionality and disaster recovery. The latest version continues the firm's mission to simplify management on the IT side while providing a rich operating experience for end users, particularly those working in distributed or mobile environments.
With its latest release, Wanova it can handle the migration to Windows 7 for 5,000 PCs in 50 hours, compared to the 2,000 hours that would be required for manual migrations. Mirage is also compatible with Windows OEM licensing.
But amid all the buzz and hype surrounding cloud computing and enterprise virtualization, Wanova at times struggles to differentiate the value proposition of its Mirage technology.
"Our biggest challenge is from those customers who think that VDI and desktop virtualization are synonymous," Phillips said. "Desktop virtualization is just another way of doing desktop management. The difference is that with desktop virtualization the images are centralized and managed through single image management. Desktop management solutions try to manage thousands of copies of PC images separately."
He added, "While there is not a challenge for enterprises that have piloted VDI, the main challenge we have is to educate customers that you can still have all the image centralization benefits for IT that VDI provides, but give users the great experience that they demand without breaking the budget in the process."
Indeed, one of the ways Wanova makes its case is through cost savings. Phillips said that the company had recently been meeting with an outfit mulling its virtualization options for some 15,000 PCs. As he describes it, the "back-of-the-envelope math" was revealing. With a VDI solution covering around 30 users per server, the organization was looking at some 500 servers amounting to around $3.5 million in capital expenditures, as well as a substantial outlay for high-speed storage. But the operating expenses were more of a wake-up call--roughly $800 annually in power and cooling costs per server, or $400,000 per year. In contrast, Wanova presented a solution that could handle the same number of users with just 10 servers amounting to $250,000 in capital expenditures and $8,000 in annual operating expenses.
"What people do not understand is that VDI is just one use case of desktop virtualization that works for users with fairly static images over a high-speed connection to a thin-client terminal," Phillips said. "VDI is not a solution for the 600 million business PCs in the world, as it does not take advantage of the local computing power of a PC, resulting in issues with user experience and high cap ex costs."
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here