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From Desktop Administrator to Virtual Desktop Administrator

January 9, 2013 Leave a comment

To risk sounding like Yoda: “Needs bring change, change brings progress, progress brings evolution. Evolution brings balance.”  Say good-bye to desktop administrators as we now know them.  

The desktop administrator’s role in the computer world is evolving on a major scale.  Why the change?  The desktop admin’s current role will increase greatly in a world full of virtual desktops that replace physical desktops.  This role will have to evolve and change in order to manage all the new cloud services demanded by future users. 

The new world of desktop replacement virtualization (DRV) invites the true concept of ubiquitous computing, where users will have the ability to consume computing resources anytime, anywhere, on any device, always tailored to them. These on-demand virtual desktop services will simply be accessed from the cloud, much like storage or networking today. As you can imagine, the management of these services will grow exponentially alongside the skills needed to manage these services.  

I believe that we already have the foundational skills needed, and they are found in a role common to all organizations: the desktop administrator.  To understand, let’s take a quick recap of who currently owns the world of virtualization and on-demand computing resources today.

Unbalance of Power in today's Virtualization

The Current “Unbalance” of Power in Virtualization

In today’s server virtualization environments, all the power and decision-making responsibility currently sits within the storage and infrastructure roles.  That is, all the decision-making happens in the server and infrastructure areas because this is where all the components of virtualization live. This is always going to be true for server virtualization.

 But what about desktop virtualization which enables personal cloud computing? Ironically, today’s desktop administrators have little or no decision-making role in this area, and yet they are the ones asked to create the images and policies needed for the virtual desktop environment.  In virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) today, the technology decision-makers are the SAN and Infrastructure administrators. As shown in the “balance of power” pyramid below, we live in a world dictated by storage needs and not desktop computing needs.

Balance of Power for VDI Today Where Storage Rules

Balance of Power for VDI today where Storage Rules

The “Re-Balance” of Power

Simply asked, why should virtual desktop decisions be dictated by storage admins?  Virtual desktops and specifically DRV virtual desktops should be managed in the same management ecosystem or perspective as the physical desktops. Control over virtual desktops should be dictated by need and placed squarely with the virtual desktop administrator, where it belongs. The relevancy of the desktop admin now grows exponentially and evolves into a virtual desktop administrator.

Change and evolution of this role is a good thing — it means that we are getting better and more refined skill sets and job opportunities. In the world of true desktop replacement virtualization, where virtual desktops run as fast as or faster than physical desktops, the new virtual desktop administrator can also put to rest any fear or uncertainties around job obsolescence. As shown below, a “balance” of power will return to the virtual desktop administrator. Everyone will play their own key role in desktop virtualization. Just as the virtual desktop administrator will manage the virtual desktop resources, the storage, network, and infrastructure admins will do the same for their responsibilities.

Re-Balance of Power for Virtual Desktops in the Future

Re-balance of Power for Virtual Desktops in the Future

The New Virtual Desktop Professional

I see the virtual desktop administrator of the future as having the lion’s share of power over his or her area of responsibility, making sure that people using these virtual desktops are in the correct pools, which are mapped with the correct resources. Storage, infrastructure and network admins will be there to offer services working together as equal parts of a team, but not dictating how the virtual desktops should be architected or implemented.

Unbalance always feels off and generally yields the same results.  Those of us who already use a DRV virtual machine from a V3 Appliance as our primary desktop have already experienced this balance. We are done with an unbalanced virtual desktop world which, at its best, can only yield virtual desktops acting as a supplement to a physical desktop or laptop. 

Gartner forecasted this shift many years ago in their infrastructure optimization model as, “enabling increased efficiencies derived from a balanced infrastructure by moving from cost center to strategic asset.” The combination of DRV managed by a virtual desktop administrator on a V3 Appliance out-of-the-box will enable any given organization to become a strategic asset, and the desktop administrator to re-affirm their role as a vital 1st class citizen in the IT organization.

I believe 2012 will truly be the year of the virtual desktop administrator. Congrats to those desktop administrators who are currently making the transition over to a virtual desktop administrator, and a warm welcome to those on their way!

 

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