The private cloud is the new datacenter

Normally, data centers are historically grown and contain a number of different, heterogeneous systems. Depending on the age of the data center, you can see the evolutionary steps of the IT industry. At older companies, you find mainframe computers, large midrange systems, and a number of rack-based Intel servers all together on one data floor. Looking at younger companies, (less than 10 years old), you won’t see this variety of platforms. They will rather count on a larger number of similar hardware, but highly virtualized to achieve the required flexibility and be able to run a large variety of workloads.

Virtualization certainly was the industry trend of the last decade.

But, what’s next? When we look ahead 10 years from now, what will be the trend of the next decade? I predict, it will be the private cloud!

From a technology point of view, the private cloud is less a revolution than virtualization was. I see it more as a logical next step. Although virtualization changed the way users perceived servers, with cloud computing, users perceive them now as a service.

It is also not a very big effort to add private cloud capabilities to today’s data centers. Every virtualized server farm can be equipped with a cloud computing layer that handles the user interaction, and the provisioning and deprovisioning of virtual servers. So, it is quite easy to adapt to this new technology.

Another reason for private clouds to conquer more and more data center space is because of cloud computing in general: workloads are not limited to run on servers in a specific data center of a company any more. In the next years, we will see more workloads put on public clouds. These remote workloads still require some degree of management and a central control point for provisioning and deprovisioning. Building up this control point for consuming remote public cloud services enables the local private cloud layer to hook in and be managed from the same infrastructure in a hybrid cloud set up.

I mentioned that with cloud computing IT is more perceived as a service than just technology; this is exactly what users outside the IT department will expect in the future. The cloud computing delivery model has already existed in the consumer market for quite some time now. People are used to visiting app stores to install their application software. They understand video on demand and software as a service for their private day-to-day IT usage. In the very near future, users will expect that on their workplaces too.


If a new data center is designed today, or an existing one is expanded to a larger extent, there are very good reasons to think about a cloud layer right from the start. At least, there are no good reasons not to think about it!

The 10 biggest myths about desktop cloud

The biggest myths are as follows:

  1. Desktop cloud is cheaper than traditional PCs.
    As I stated in my other blog post “Motivations for moving the desktop to the cloud,” if the only driver for a desktop cloud initiative is cost savings, the project might not succeed. There are many parameters to take into account that can make a desktop cloud solution cheap – or expensive.
  2. You can’t run multimedia applications on a virtual PC.
    You can run multimedia applications on VDI environments. All known vendors of VDI products have solutions available. For lightweight multimedia applications, such as audio or YouTube videos, state-of-the-art protocols such as HDX (Citrix) or PCoIP (VMware) can handle them and provide decent results.
  3. You can’t run CAD applications on a virtual PC.
    Solutions are on the market that can provide high-end graphics in a VDI environment. Most of them are able to access a GPU built into the server for rendering. However, if such a solution does make sense, it needs to be carefully evaluated on a case by case basis.
  4. You can access your desktop from anywhere at anytime.
    Although you can access your virtual desktop as soon as you have a working Internet connection, whether you can work with it depends on a few more parameters such as latency and bandwidth. Latency greater than 100 ms makes a remote desktop feel heavy; latency greater than 250 ms can be annoying; and if latency exceeds 500 ms, it is almost impossible to work with.
  5. You can’t use local attached devices such as printers or scanners.
    You can use local attached devices very well today. It’s more a question about whether all the necessary drivers are installed in the virtual desktop or terminal server or whether the user is entitled to use them.
  6. You can equip 100% of your user population with virtual PCs.
    Even with very high ambitions, you will only be able to transfer a certain percentage of your users to a virtual desktop. For highly standardized clients, an average of 80% is a good number.
  7. You cannot install additional software or device drivers to your virtual PC.
    Usually, this is true. Especially for installing device drivers, administrative privileges are required. Although, from a technical point of view, it would be possible to grant normal users admin rights for their virtual PCs, that is usually not the case in reality. For applications, it might be a different story. Using application virtualization, users can be entitled to access and locally install new applications based on their profile.
  8. You don’t need on site support any more.
    Even with traditional PCs, on-site support is not mandatory. Only about 5 – 10% of all problem tickets are hardware-dependent. The usual problem is related to software or configuration, which can be solved remotely, too. However, users prefer to have someone from the support team in person when discussing a problem – and that’s not changing with a virtual PC.
  9. It is the same effort to patch OS or distribute new versions of a software to all workstations.
    Having all virtual PCs and data in a central data center makes patching them much easier. The whole electronic software distribution and patch management infrastructure is much less complex because it does not require fan-out servers or WAN links.
  10. Desktop cloud does not change anything for the user, so the user gladly accepts the new workstation.
    Don’t underestimate the cultural change when you replace a user’s physical PC with a virtual PC in a cloud. It is like stealing something out of the user’s pocket!