As with many other new technologies, financial organisations have been among the most keen to embrace desktop virtualisation.
The main reason this particular technology is being largely adopted by the sector is because it suits the need for easier mobility: thanks to VDI, users can access their desktop from any PC with an internet connection, making it easy to access large amounts of data and heavy applications from a light mini netbook while travelling and even making it unnecessary to carry a laptop around when visiting another office.
But although for many this is a good enough reason alone to adopt this technology, there is another advantage that makes desktop virtualisation even more attractive for the financial sector: it allows centralisation of all Intellectual Property, which is not owned and managed at end user level but centrally by the IT department.
It is extremely important for this particular sector to have control over data and IP, as these are vital to a firm creating competitive advantage in the market – to financial firms, IP is an important asset and therefore needs to be protected.
With this solution, all data will be processed and saved in a central hub rather than at user level, so that it is less difficult for users to take information to competitors or to copy it on an external device and lose it, therefore protecting the company from breaches of the Data Protection Act.
Centralisation also means that individuals will not be able to freely download random software onto their desktop that may contain viruses or create a window for hacking, with all the extra security benefits that this entails. Due to the sensitivity and importance of the information a financial firm deals with, being able to minimise the occurrence of these kinds of data security breaches is a great advantage – it increases public and regulatory confidence and credibility, which can add value to the company.
Data leakage, loss or theft may in fact lead not only to costly fines, but there is also a likelihood, due to the obligation to inform clients and make an incident public, that this would create a loss of reputation and, therefore, business – both with current and potential customers who might choose to opt for the competition. A safe environment is more attractive, hence a correctly managed VDI solution can help retain clients and perhaps also win new business.
Sure, desktop virtualisation has a cost and is not particularly convenient financially for companies that have just upgraded their hardware. It is instead a wise investment when PCs are in need of a refresh, as an alternative choice. The ROI in this case is immediate, but in any case the short and medium-term benefits are not confined to reduced hardware costs.
It also enables the IT department to reach some important cost-efficiencies. Benefits include: enabling IT support personnel to carry out maintenance more easily and quickly; speeding up simple operations such as patching and applying new application upgrades; a smaller number of technicians needed to deal with support to remote users, especially the more expensive desk-side engineers.
Desktop virtualisation also allows for cost savings in the long run by extending the PC lifecycle and applying a concurrent-usage software licensing model. The pooling of flexible server hardware will extend its lifecycle and the simplified infrastructure will enable zero downtime.
The advantages of VDI are evidently numerous, but being in control of data, IP and the way each individual desktop is managed by end users represents a major benefit for financial organisations in particular. If implemented and managed correctly, in fact, this technology can allow them to gain competitive advantage, minimise losses, increase their security and return on investment, ultimately improving business success.