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Cheap Desktop Computing for the Army

If you have close to a million desktops the temptation will be to cut costs by taking one major application at a time and then proceeding with incremental consolidations into cloud services. That is what the Army is doing. They are migrating eighteen separate e-mail enclaves into a singular cloud service provided by DISA. This approach will generate savings of close $80 million/year, with the Air Force to follow subsequent to success.

One could ask if such a gradual approach is that the best way generating multi-billion IT cost reductions expected in years to come?

The slow incremental approach still leaves the Army will reliance on costly desktops and smart-phones for access to hundreds of other applications that are located on servers that support the workforce.

The Army could save more by proceeding virtualization of all of its 800,000 desktops. By cutting the configuration of costly-to-maintain desktops it could reduce five-year costs of hardware by and additional $1.6 billion. The greatest benefit would come from the reduction of infrastructure and administrative costs by $2.4 billion. The Army could accomplish this by encapsulating existing software and moving it to central cloud services.  Virtualized servers would then perform all of the configuration management, software updating and security services for desktops as well as mobile computing. When operating from a pool of virtualized servers much larger cost reductions would become available immediately.

There are additional savings available from reductions of servers in the data centers. However, the major target should be the cuts in personnel costs for maintenance of the desktop and mobile computing devices that are located at hundreds of sites where local contractors support them. It is the wide dispersion of information technology maintenance that is nowadays the greatest drain on IT budgets.

As of mid-2011, at least 40% of computing workloads have been virtualized in data centers. Time has now come to extend the benefits of virtualization to end-users. Commercial firms are now making plans to scale the virtualization of desktops to thousands of widely dispersed users.

The virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) adoption rates are growing as businesses are turning to such solutions to tackle complex desktop environments, security and compliance issues. An increasingly mobile workforce can meanwhile access their desktops even when disconnected from the network.

Time has come to reach out to the millions of user devices that operate in thousands of “silos”. They should be brought into a consolidated cloud environment where much lower costs and increased security can take place.

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