HP's Chan said that while the focus on the technological aspects of a VDI migration was pertinent, it's just as important to get the business to "buy-in" — take ownership of the process, a factor that contributed significantly to the success of MTR's platform migration.
"The director of the property management department headed the steering committee on this project...what that meant was that the users were responsible for the success of this project, not just IT," she said. "If we ran into a problem no one asked: 'is this a user/IT/HP problem?' — it was seen as a project problem."
Stephen Langley, deputy CIO, Securities & Futures Commission, said that in his experience, stakeholder buy-in was critical. He shared an experience at a major technology multinational, which was faced with a situation where the cost of providing a PC and support to a user in China was greater than the salary cost for that person due to the "Rolls Royce" platform they were using.
The business case clearly favored moving to a VDI environment, but internal resistance from IT support providers meant that the project encountered significant delays. "Eventually they did end up with a couple of models," said Langley, "but the issue was about the disconnect between the internal IT support providers versus the people in the trenches trying to provide an appropriate low-cost service."
Hung from MTR said the ultimate benefit from the migration was measured on MTR's bottom line: the standardization and virtualization delivered savings of about HK$3 million in a single year.
These savings aren't immediately obvious, as additional provisioning requirements saw bandwidth costs rise. In addition, the move to enterprise-level data centers meant the corporation now incurs higher data center costs.
The other cost issue is desktop licensing, as VDI often requires a second operating system license on top of the original one acquired when the PC was first purchased.
However, Hung said that the corporation was still able to reap net savings on a TCO basis. It did this by significantly reducing the amount of IT support, as all applications are standardized and hosted in two virtualized data centers, which can be easily accessed by a core team.
Executives at the roundtable noted that IT support expenses were increasingly becoming a concern for many businesses, particularly in high labor cost centers like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. VDI is seen as an attractive strategy to minimize these expenses, particularly as it allows IT departments to cope with the large number of patches and security fixes required in today's modern technology environment.
"It is the labor around software installation, patching and security that costs the most," said Mui Chee-Leong, VP and CTO for Manulife International's Asia Division. "It's about three times the cost of the original PC investment."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.