User productivity to justify something? 1

This morning I was checking my Twitter and got a post regarding (yes, try to guess) VDI. Again. This time with a different twist. Using the increase (possible one) in productity to justify going VDI. You can read the original post here.

If we were all reading/writing these 20 years ago, I would agree with the article. But today, sorry, I cannot. And I will explain the reasons why.

As per the original article, when typewriters were replaced by computers, even if you are not on IT, you can clearly see how much more a computer can do compared to a typewriter. So at the time we had what I call a fundamental change in technology, something major that will clearly allow for a tenfold productivity increase or more. And that is something any CFO/CEO can clearly see and the reason why typewriters were gone quickly. I compare this kind of event in technology to the asteroid that got rid of the dinosaurs. Something major, abrupt, that has the power to bring major changes to something.

Fast forward to today’s IT landscape and the reality is WAY different. First of all, as I wrote several times, if VDI will indeed replace what we know as a desktop today it will have to introduce one of these fundamental changes. And as you can read on this blog, I do not think this will happen unless hardware changes (major ones) are brought to the table.

So back to the topic, in the past couple years there was nothing huge (another IT asteroid if you will) that would bring a tenfold increase in productivity. Sure, application virtualization, OS virtualization, SBC, VDI, type 1 hypervisors and so on helped in many areas but it was not like what happened with the typewriters.

Plus, as of today, measuring user productivity, is something extremely hard. If, as of today, with the current tools and WITHOUT VDI you cannot give your users what they need to work, there is something wrong with you and/or your company. With current, proven technologies you can probably give way more than what your users need to work. Just remember the Office paradigm where “80% of all users use 20% of all features”.

Add to that the fact if you can indeed give users something they will be able to cut 30 minutes a day from their workload, do you really think they will use these now free 30 extra minutes a day to work more? I do not think so. I can guarantee you these 30 minutes will be spread accross two coffee breaks and a lunch so he gets some extra time to himself. At the end of the day he will be doing the same workload but with 30 extra minutes for himself.

And oh boy, how can you measure that considering users are all different? I can bet in your company there are users that completely understand your IT environment and the tools they have at their disposal. Others probably still do not understand how such mysterious, almost magical device, the mouse, works. This is the reality. Not to mention that with any change it comes user training and not all users, again, are the same. Some may take days to adapt. Others, months. And some will never adapt and will curse you and your changes forever.

The point here is simple. I get the fact that an increase in productivity can indeed be used to justify changes like it did for the extinction of the typewriters. But when the introduction of a new technology brings minor increases (and that is the case in my opinion for VDI – users will still be doing pretty much the same, pretty much the same way) it gets very hard to justify, especially these days when C-level executives are trying to trim all the fat they have been carrying for several years.

In a way it is like trying to justify to your wife why you should get rid of your working, 20,000:1 CR 720p native triple LCD projector in your home theater to buy the 25,000:1 CR, 1080p native one. As a videophile I know the difference and I can see it. But for my wife and most of the people that watch movies at my place, the difference will be minimal (assuming they can see it). Same goes for IT these days.

Unless someone can bring way more to the table, another IT asteroid, I cannot be convinced, as of today, to deploy VDI in 90% of the cases or my customers. I can see it as a solution for maybe 10% of these. But sorry, it is no game changer as a lot of people have been bragging all over the Internet, from Twitter to Blogs. Again, unless some major shift, technological advancement is done on the HW level.

VDI people out there, you need way more to convince me.

Show me what you got.



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One thought on “User productivity to justify something?

  • Steve Greenberg


    I agree with this. It is particularly interesting to me that you state that VDI might make sense for about 10% of users because that is the number I am finding in my consulting practise as well. There are about 10% of uses cases, for many various reasons, that it applies. It is great for those cases and nothing else can solve those particular problems, but I think it will be a long time before VDI is a good solution for the masses