The service will appeal most to companies that have fairly standardized desktop images, such as call centers, and which already use some type of hosted desktop management services, Boles said. "I think in those cases it could be quite profitable for IBM and more efficient and economical for the customer," he said.
While IBM will host the desktop images and manage the virtualized servers and storage they run on, customers can continue to use the directory and authentication systems they have in their own data centers.
"If the customer has mature authentication and data management schemes they can continue to use those without having to outsource all of that," he said.
Customers will need to sign up for at least 50 desktops to use the service, IBM said. For companies that don't want their desktops hosted at IBM's data center, for regulatory or other reasons, IBM will provide the hardware at the customer site and manage it there, Morgan said.
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