As information technology continually evolves, there is a cycle of tendencies between central and distributed control. You could envision mainframe technology with terminal services at one end of the spectrum: high performing, resilient and singular in its standardized support of thin clients connecting across the network. Open systems might be somewhat opposite, with a range of servers, desktops, and laptops, giving great flexibility and a small enough footprint to serve local users anywhere, but somewhat at the expense of management simplicity and robustness.
More recent trends toward consolidation, including server and storage virtualization, are often driven by operational and financial considerations to return to fewer servers with higher utilization, simplified disaster recovery operations, and common platforms. The next logical step in the cycle might be a return to true thin clients, embodied presently as a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). This continues the effort to reduce the dependence on heavy, distributed physical components, in favor of the light-weight portability of virtual desktop services in branch offices.
Desktop virtualization customers are seeking to reduce support and maintenance costs, simplify management, replace traditional PC hardware, and increase security and resilience. ESG reports that “With increasing numbers of corporate applications to support, nearly one-third (32%) of IT organizations surveyed spend more than 12 hours of IT staff time per client device per year performing routine management and maintenance tasks, with some organizations devoting more than 24 hours per device to annual ongoing management.”[Download not found]