Santa’s IT department is working overtime this Christmas and the deals may look too good to pass up. Walmart is selling a tablet for just $99 while the average selling price for a Windows PC is down more than 10% in the last year!  But before you go on that IT holiday spending spree, you may want to take a step back and take a look at your entire network. Cheap PCs may make for immediate gratification but Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI, could be the gift that keeps on giving.

Virtualizing company servers has become commonplace in today’s business IT world.  In server virtualization, software is used to divide the physical server into multiple virtual environments so one machine can run multiple operating systems, cutting down on hardware, maintenance, energy costs, and in the end, allowing for more efficient data center operations.

But the cost savings associated with virtualizing desktops may be even more dramatic.  With VDI, PCs could be replaced by a simple keyboard, mouse, and screen because the virtualized desktop is stored on a “virtual machine,” located on a centralized or remote server in the back room.  That means the desktop image, the operating system, and all of an individual’s data are stored remotely, allowing an employee to use virtually any device, anywhere, and at any time, to access their “computer.”  Employees are happier, more productive, and that smile on your CFO’s face is a result of not having to buy a new PC every time a new person joins the company.  Talk about sugar plums dancing in your head….!

Nowhere is the impact of VDI more evident than in the healthcare world.  Desktop virtualization has become essential for today’s demanding electronic health records (EHR) systems where the geographic distribution of clinical operations and new client devices like iPads and other mobile devices are bringing an end to the need for traditional PCs.  Doctors and nurses are constantly on the move and VDI allows them to access the same information, the same way, whether they’re in their office, the ER, or even catching up on paperwork at home over the weekend.

New integrated capabilities like dictation and unified communications have eroded many of the initial gains offered by simple application streaming.  Whether its doctors in a hospital or executives in a more traditional work setting, they all demand a highly personalized experience that supports all of their unique requirements.  VDI makes it personal.

And then there’s compliance.  Business software systems are increasingly interlinked and must be kept current.  Software updates must be applied promptly to stay compliant and files must remain protected.  Virtual desktops hosted on data center servers provide greater control, availability, and manageability than distributed PCs while also ensuring there is no data saved on individual tablets or other devices that can be compromised or stolen.

PC sales are up nearly twenty percent over this time last year and that’s good news for the industry.  But as you hang out your stocking and evaluate that new round of technology purchases this holiday season, you may want to first take a look at VDI, and the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.