VDI cost varies with quality of user experience

Vendors often sell VDI on the premise that it is more cost effective than desktop computers. In this video, VDI expert Brian Madden argues that the notion of VDI being cheaper is a skewed concept. He says that any money saved is a result of switching from very powerful desktop computers to VDI clients with back-end servers and storage systems that will severely decrease the quality of the VDI user experience. Watch the video or read the transcript below.

Madden: I was in Australia, at an event, and this guy was like, "For us, VDI was actually cheaper." I [said] "Oh yeah? Talk about this." He [said], "Okay, we spent $1000 on PCs every four … years. … So if we go VDI, we can replace those $1000 PCs with $200 thin clients for savings of $800." Now, that's just the thin client, right? He has to buy all the back-end kits: the servers, the storage, the VMware, et cetera … all that costs about 500 bucks -- $500 back-end kit [plus a] $200 client [equals a] total of $700 spent, locking in a savings of $300 per user. So he [said], "For us, VDI is cheaper."

I'm not arguing that he's not saving money, but why is he saving money? A $1000 PC? Have you ever bought a $1000 PC? That's a lot of PC. Nowadays, that's like dual-processor, probably eight cores, like a GPU dual 1900 by 1200 displays -- that's a lot of PC, a very beefy PC. That $200 thin client? It's got VGA. ... that's it. There's no GPU [or] 3D graphics on your $500 worth of back-end server. Your $500 worth of back-end kit for VDI bought you a top-of-the-line 1994 desktop. So is this dude saving money? Hell yeah, he's saving money. But why is he saving money? Because he's hacking the user experience. I don't mean Kevin Mitnick hacking, I mean machete hacking. He's got users with eight cores per user and he's now doing what? Putting eight users per core on his VDI? So [he's] going from eight cores per user to one-eighth of a core per user. [Of course] that's cheaper.

But here's the thing. You don't need VDI to do that. … Instead of messing around with VDI and all that, I could have just bought $300 new Dells for my users. Actually, hell, I could have just kept the $1000 PCs that are four years old and they're still better than a VDI today. I could have sold the $1000 PCs for $600 on eBay, bought $100 PCs on eBay, replaced them with that and still been better than VDI for even cheaper than VDI. So in that case, VDI absolutely is not the cause of why they're saving money. But we're sold VDI on [the premise of] it saving money. If you've got similar scenarios in your environment, where your management wants to justify cost savings, if you type into Google, "How to lie with cost models," [you'll find my] handy 12-step guide.

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