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Desktop virtualization: Vendors fight but users still happy

Kevin Fogarty | Nov. 17, 2010
There is so much competition for what computer companies perceive as a tremendous growth opportunity in desktop virtualization that the leading virtual desktop vendors have taken to re-announcing packages and products to highlight small improvements and garner some attention.

All three versions come either in Microsoft operating systems, its VirtualPC, or in addons such as Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V.)

Other vendors also leaped into the desktop virtualization market in the past two weeks, some unexpectedly:

• The Virtual Computing Environment -- a vendor group formed by Cisco, EMC, Intel and VMware -- released a set of applications and the Cisco server/networking hardware to run them and called Vblocks, which come with applications configured and ready to run when the hardware is plugged in. The first Vblocks run VMware's View 4.5 desktop virtualization package.

• Unified communications vendor Mitel announced a set of cloud-based communications servers designed to run either in public clouds or cloudified data centers.

• Telecom vendor Avaya announced a package it called the Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture provides products and reference architecture designed to help build low-latency networks to support multimedia or virtualized applications.

• Tiny Desktone announced the Desktone Cloud -- a service built on infrastructure maintained by Rackspace that provides remote-hosted desktops (Desktop as a Service) to end users.

• The latest version of the Fedora Linux distribution, announced last week, comes with extensive virtual desktop capabilities and the ability to run remotely on Amazon's EC2 cloud platform.

For Many End Users, Web Apps Enough?

Though the rush of announcements has spurred headlines like a recent one in the Wall Street Journal that warned "Cisco Aims to Replace Your PC", a completely virtualized desktop will probably never be the preferred workstation for corporate end users, according to Chris Wolf, research vice president at Gartner.

"We continue to see clients using streaming applications in some instances and shared hosted desktops and for people who need it, VDI or, when you're talking about tablets and other devices, virtual clients that work offline [such as receiver]", Wolf says. "What we'll probably end up seeing is many or most corporate desktops or laptops virtualized to some degree, even if it's just one streamed application; only a small and probably relatively fixed percentage would be based on a full VDI or hosted OS model."

It's the potential in being able to partially virtualize many or most desktops that provides the incentive for both integrators selling the technology and vendors developing it, according to Bill Hurley, chief technology officer of $3 billion global IT distributor Westcon Group, which sells and services IT products for telecom service providers, regional and national resellers and integrators in 70 countries.

 

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