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Moving Desktops to the Cloud
The costs and benefits of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure solutions

Software & IT Track

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Cloud computing is revolutionizing IT server operations and organizations are beginning to embrace the cloud computing paradigm for desktop computing. Cloud computing refers to users receiving IT services over the LAN, WAN, or internet from a datacenter with dynamically scalable virtualized resources. Two approaches to serving desktops from the cloud are Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Terminal Services-based remote desktops. These desktop replacement solutions move desktop processing and storage to the datacenter and require a client at the user’s desk which transmits keyboard and mouse inputs to the datacenter and receives display information. This paper compares the quantitative and qualitative benefits of two centralized desktop computing architectures; a VDI solution and a Terminal Services-based Trusted Computing Solution (TCS) and the relevant cost drivers associated with each approach to a typical distributed desktop computing model.
A centralized desktop computing model requires a significant upfront investment in design, testing, and implementation, in addition to hardware and software. This paper uses representative costs that approximate the cost of thin client devices, datacenter servers, software, and enterprise storage. These upfront investment costs are offset by cost savings from longer technology refresh cycles and reduced operations and management (O&M) costs in comparison to a baseline desktop computing model. This paper estimates life cycle costs for each alternative, calculates the return on investment (ROI) of each alternative relative to the baseline, conducts sensitivity analysis, and examines the cost drivers associated with each alternative.
In addition to the quantitative analysis, this paper explores the qualitative benefits of centralized computing. Centralized desktop computing increases data security and mobility, decreases downtime, and reduces bandwidth and electrical consumption. On the other hand, centralized desktop computing has reduced 3D graphics and multimedia support and allows for fewer compatible peripheral devices. In addition, this paper compares the qualitative benefits of VDI vs. TCS and identifies emerging technology desktop trends such as enterprise migration and hardware improvement.
VDI and TCS are logical extensions of the current IT trend towards cloud computing, consolidated datacenters with server and storage virtualization. The paper utilizes similar methodologies to the submitted paper entitled “The Economics of Cloud Computing – Addressing the Benefits of Infrastructure in the Cloud”; therefore it serves as a desktop computing-based complement to that infrastructure-based paper. We anticipate an organization’s decision to adopt a VDI or TCS solution will result in a significant reduction in O&M cost and an increase in ROI as compared to the traditional distributed desktop model. Because of this, we expect organizations to continue to embrace this emerging technology, moving desktops to the cloud.


Ryan Timm
Booz Allen Hamilton
Ryan Timm is an Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton’s Economic and Business Analysis (EBA) Team. Mr. Timm has more than seven years of consulting experience in major acquisition decisions for public sector clients. Mr. Timm has experience across the Intelligence Community (IC) as a Cost Analyst for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He has also supported military services and civilian agencies. He has developed lifecycle cost estimates, program plans, conducted analyses of alternatives (AoAs), cost benefit analyses (CBAs), risk analyses, and has drafted responses to inquires from congressional and agency oversight committees. Mr. Timm currently leads the cost analysis team for NGA’s Active IT program responsible for developing lifecycle cost analysis and supporting engineering trade studies.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, Mr. Timm supported the U.S. Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT program as a Senior Systems Analyst for Nortel Government Solutions leading the program’s Air/Sea Exit Pilot Evaluation Project. Mr. Timm provides a unique blend of technical understanding with risk and financial analysis skills and brings to bear extensive domain knowledge of IC agencies and related Service/tactical component organizations. He is a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and SCEA Certified Cost Estimator / Analyst (CCE/A).

Leon Halstead
Booz Allen Hamilton
Leon Halstead is an Associate on Booz Allen Hamilton’s Economic and Business Analysis (EBA) Team. Mr. Halstead has 19 years of professional and technical experience in a variety of scenarios. He has been a certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCE/A) since 2001 and holds both MBA (Finance) and MS (Information & Telecommunication Systems) degrees. During his career, his technical and analytical experience has been utilized in upwards of twenty-five Federal Government organizations across the civil, military and national security sectors.
He has worked on many IT Economics-focused studies, including IT Infrastructure Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) studies, as well as IT-based Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) projects, most recently for the U.S. Department of Justice. Other efforts include resource optimization in support of IT budget formulation, as well as supporting various strategy-based efforts, with a particular focus on the intersections between cost and technical performance.
At previous employers, his work included Program Control and Earned Value Management where he prepared program Estimates to Complete (ETC) and Estimates at Completion (EAC) and Operations Analysis where his focus was on resource optimization.

Michael Richards
Booz Allen Hamilton
Michael Richards is an Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton’s Economic and Business Analysis (EBA) team. Mr. Richards has eight years experience in the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) and three years consulting experience with government clients. Mr. Richards currently serves on the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Applied Economic Analysis (AEA) team providing economic analysis support to the Program Assessment and Evaluation Division (FE-1D) where he has successfully completed a number of analyses, including Life Cycle Cost Estimates and Activity-Based Cost Estimates.
Prior to joining Booz Allen, he served five years as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy, during which he served as a Collection Manager and an Air Intelligence Officer. Before joining the United States Navy, Mr. Richards worked as a Procurement Analyst, where he analyzed procurement functions and facilitated supply chain management. He also worked in business development, responsible for securing affiliates and forming professional partnerships for company growth. He is a SCEA certified Professional Cost Estimator/Analyst (PCE/A).

Justin Smith
Booz Allen Hamilton
Justin Smith is a Senior Consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton’s Economic and Business Analysis (EBA) team. Mr. Smith has over 5 years of professional experience performing cost and benefit analysis, cost modeling, financial analysis, and investment performance analysis. He is a SCEA certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCE/A) and is pursuing his MBA part-time at Virginia Tech. Currently, Mr. Smith provides specialized cost estimating and earned value analysis support to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Most recently, Mr. Smith completed a role as lead cost analyst on an Analysis of Alternative’s (AoAs) study for the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Prior to Booz Allen Hamilton, Mr. Smith served as a financial analyst for Beers and Cutler, an accounting and consulting firm. He designed and implemented financial reports using Microsoft Excel, SQL and Business Objects – Desktop Intelligence. In addition, he served as lead budget analyst, responsible for the formulation, tracking, and presentation of budget proposals to Business Group Leaders. Further, Mr. Smith worked extensively analyzing financial trends, identifying ways to maximize profit, while minimizing cost.
Mr. Smith has also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Cambridge Associates. While with the CIA, he analyzed and interpreted financial data and policies, identifying and resolving discrepancies in financial data and/or financial systems, ensuring maintenance of data integrity. At Cambridge Associates, Mr. Smith worked as an International Investment Performance Analyst. He provided performance analyses of investment results to member institutions and consulting teams. He also managed a team of four junior-level associates, whose responsibilities included tracking and analyzing equity and fixed income investments, concentrating on foreign currency performance.