MinervaWorks in the News:
Virtual Desktop Initiatives Lower Technology Costs
This article will appear in the January-February, 2012 issue of Collection Advisor.
Today’s economic environment is continuing to pressure agencies to do more with less: lower liquidation rates and decreasing revenues leave little cash for high cost desktop platforms and their associated support costs. And the high touch aspect of desktop security and support can place an agency into a tenuous security posture, leaving the agency vulnerable to attacks, data compromises and even failed security audits. The implementation of a virtual desktop strategy at the agent level can help defray these costs and provide a stronger level of security for your agency.
Agencies find that one of their most costly investments is the agent-provided tools such as the telephone, the collection software and the desktop PC. By utilizing new virtualization capabilities offered from various vendors, an agency can easily apply the appropriate level of technology resources to the appropriate agency personnel. The agent can have only the level of technology resources required, no more. The supervisor can have a higher level of technology resources than the agent but no more. The management can have a higher level of technology resources than the supervisor but no more. And the information technology team can support these various resource levels from a centralized platform, greatly diminishing the amount of high-touch support and reducing administrative costs while allowing the team to better manage agency-wide security concerns.
What is desktop virtualization? Desktop virtualization speaks to the logical representation of the desktop environment rather than the physical representation. The desktop environment and associated services are provided by a centralized resource such as a server, as opposed to a local device such as a PC. The centralized resource becomes the virtual host for many desktops. The services are provided in an agency via the local area network (LAN) or in the case of remote agency locations, by the wide area network (WAN). A local device of some type is still needed at the agent location but now this device can be a very simplistic, network-attached device with no additional components such as USB ports, CD/DVD drives or even disk drives. And the hardware costs are lower.
However, the primary cost reduction driver comes from the significant reduction in desktop support, desktop platform administration and security needs. The information technology team can centrally manage all levels of users and associated resources, allowing timelier and less risky implementation of software upgrades and security patches, all without a visit to the agents’ desks. Plus the technology team becomes more efficient, now able to manage many more desktop-oriented environments, even those that are remote, from a central location. In some cases, software licensing costs are reduced through special licensing agreements for virtualized environments.
The virtualized desktop environment provides soft benefits, too. The ability to quickly deploy desktop environments allows for the easy expansion of services to new agents and locations or even to support a new level of user. Hardware is better utilized for the various user types and can be shared among a community of users with ease. Plus, the desktop virtualization contributes to better availability of services and can become a cornerstone of an improved disaster recovery posture for the agency.
But there are also trade-offs. Savings at the desktop level can be negated with the need for a robust server and networking infrastructure. And now the storage component is centralized, placing increased demands on the storage area network (SAN). And due to the heavy dependence on network connectivity, the associated bandwidth must be sufficient to provide the necessary performance to the user community. A good balance of all the necessary components will ultimately result in lower overall capital and operational costs for the agency.
The key vendors in the emerging marketplace for desktop virtualization are Microsoft Hyper V, VMWare View and Citrix XenDesktop. These vendors provide the necessary software for a complete enterprise-wide desktop virtualization implementation. Each supports a variety of hardware choices for the desktop levels and can even extend to atypical devices such as iPads and Smartphones. Each vendor has other products that your agency may now use, allowing you to leverage the vendor in a cost effective manner. For instance, if you use VMWare to virtualize your server environment for other applications, you can leverage that investment for a virtualized desktop initiative. And agencies reaching for the ultimate in savings can head for the cloud and investigate vendors such as Dell vDaaS, Virtuon vPresence and Desktone, who provide cloud-based services for desktop virtualization.
Taking advantages of new virtualization technologies can reduce infrastructure and support costs for collection agencies, providing added value in these tough economic times.
MinervaWorks consults with CEOs, CFOs, CIOs and IT teams in a variety of settings to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their IT operation. For more information, visit the MinervaWorks web site at www.minervaworks.com, or email email@example.com.