One of the most hotly debated and discussed topics around VDI is cost, specifically, people wonder whether VDI is cheaper than traditional laptops and desktops. I've written about this quite a bit, including:
- How VMware is misleading everyone about the cost savings of VDI (2009)
- The hidden costs of VDI (2009)
- If you want VDI to be more reliable *and* cheaper than traditional desktops, you will fail! (2011)
- Desktop Virtualization is NOT about cost savings or saving money (2011)
And of course:
That said, even in 2013 I still spend a fair amount of time discussing the cost of implementing VDI (CapEx) and how that compares to traditional PCs. The historic opinion in the industry has been that VDI isn't any cheaper to buy, but it's cheaper to maintain. (Though that's debatable, but not the point of this article.)
Often times when I mention that today, people respond with something like, "Hey, since VDI cost $500 per user a few years ago, it should be $300 per user today, right?"
The main reason they think that is because of Moore's law. Even though Moore's law technically applies to transistor density on microchips, it more typically manifests itself in our lives in the form of technology getting cheaper year after year. (Or, perhaps more commonly, the same amount of money being able to purchase increasingly faster and better gadgets.)
So when it comes to VDI, people think that Moore's law should be driving down the price. But that's not actually true. (At least not yet.)
In 2013, VDI is still going to cost you $500 per user. What Moore's Law has done has made it so you can buy a lot more for your $500 today versus back in 2009, (when Windows 7 was released). The advantage that we have is that since most people are building their VDI around Windows 7, the system requirements for a good experience are sort of "frozen" at 2009 levels. For example, Microsoft says the Windows 7 system requirements are:
- 1GHz processor
- 1GB RAM
- 16GB disk space
- DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 driver
The same applies to VDI. Moore's Law means that the focus in 2013 is not that you can buy VDI for 1/5th the cost of VDI in 2009, but instead that the $500 you spend for VDI in 2013 is 5x more powerful per user than what you could buy in 2009. In other words the same money buys a much better experience.
This is huge—something that I probably should have included as Item #3 in my March 2013 article "2013 is the year that two of the biggest showstoppers to VDI adoption are finally solved." Five years ago we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to the amount of iron we could throw at a VDI desktop for $500. But in 2013, thanks to Moore's Law and the economies of scale we get in the datacenter and the fact that Windows 7's system requirements are not moving, we can actually put together a very capable VDI desktop for $500 per user. Huzzah!