For every year of the past decade, industry pundits have joked that this is the Year of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The pandemic of 2020 has put a halt to the mocking as organizations across the globe rush to deploy virtual desktops to their employees.
New technologies like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) have broken through previous economic hurdles to VDI for one key reason–HCI enables continuous scaling to accommodate new users and workloads without requiring a forklift upgrade of a SAN.
Even with these advantages, as well as the new mandate for work from anywhere (WFA), historical challenges to VDI can still hamper or even derail a deployment. Organizations can mitigate these issues by conducting a thorough ROI analysis prior to rolling out a deployment. A strong ROI analysis provides a framework for developing an optimal End-User Computing (EUC) strategy, as well as a compelling rationale for advancing the initiative should budgeting, technical, or political issues arise. Here is how to get started.
Evaluate the VDI migration over a multi-year timeframe, and incorporate administration costs
Most organizations have three to five-year refresh lifecycles for their PCs and laptops. A five-year ROI period reflects at least one full refresh cycle. VDI greatly extends the expected lifetime of these devices, as you can either lock down your PCs and laptops to act like thin-clients, or purchase actual thin or zero-clients.
With a hyperconverged back-end infrastructure, an organization can migrate its physical desktops to VDI over time in conjunction with its PC and laptop refresh rate. In many cases, just the hardware cost of upgrading the PCs and laptops is enough to give a good ROI and a decent payback period on the VDI purchase. Factoring in the typically large administrative savings from going to centralized desktops often results in a payback period measured under a year.
Look at the entire user population
VDI is not ideal for all users. For example, some laptop users may need to be mobile for visiting clients sites and other locations. On the other hand, many organizations have laptop users primarily working between the office and home or other branch offices. These users are typically great candidates for virtual desktops that can follow them around wherever they go, without worrying about breaking or losing expensive laptops carrying sensitive information.
Even if an organization has no immediate plans for moving large populations of users, modeling a migration over time helps IT leadership understand the many benefits, financial and otherwise, from making VDI more of a universal framework. With newer GPU and other capabilities, even CAD engineers can use virtual desktops. And because the marginal cost of adding new users tends to be low, a larger deployment means larger savings.
Consider productivity-related benefits
In a VDI ROI analysis for a rapidly growing healthcare organization last year, we found that virtual desktops both reduced physician login times, as well as the need to travel between dedicated workstations for tasks such as billing and transcription. The time savings enabled an average additional patient visit per physician per day, equating to $374,000 additional revenues per doctor over the 5-year analysis period.
In most organizations, employees constitute their single biggest expense. Even so, businesses often do not quantify the value of employee productivity. Implementing VDI can boost this key metric in several ways, such as slashing downtime from upgrades or device failures; facilitating both employee onboarding and M&A by providing new employees with instant access to the company’s systems; making BYOD seamless; enhancing security; and enabling effective disaster recovery from any browser. Users can focus more on customer service, innovation, and the bottom line.
Look at overall EUC technology
Although VDI has entered the mainstream, it is still only one component of an EUC strategy. Virtual applications, streamed desktops, Desktop as a Service (DaaS), thin-client devices, and even physical laptops all may play a role, depending upon the use case. An ROI analysis provides the opportunity to look at EUC holistically, and to both define where VDI is a great fit, as well as to quantify the benefits it enables.
To learn more about financial analysis of VDI, and of disruptive technology in general, download a free copy of The ROI Story: A guide for IT leaders.