VDI as a
How many IT
managers would relish the prospect of outsourcing Windows-based client-server
desktops to a hosted service that knew what it was doing? This represents
nirvana for a lot of people.
gained some added gravitas when IBM came into the picture in January 2011 with
its own VDI package. Because it needed to include mainframes within the
solution, it required about two years to do all its quality-assurance testing
and determine best practices. Finally, Big Blue's Virtual Desktop for Smart
Business launched Jan. 24.
channel-enabled IBM enterprise-desktop package provides anytime/anywhere secure
access to personal desktops on many devices-PC or Mac, Windows or Linux (SUSE,
Ubuntu or Red Hat). It is designed primarily to run on IBM System x mainframes
but works equally well on x86 servers, Antony Satyadas, IBM solution
strategist, told eWEEK.
system monitoring, help desk, collaboration, analytics and custom applications
for ISVs to the table. IBM-sanctioned systems integrators, such as Novato,
Calif.-based CMI, supply the hosting capabilities, while Austin, Texas-based
Virtual Bridges, with its Verde VDI control system, offers the management
interface secret sauce that IBM required.
Bridges' central management and reporting works through a single console; IBM
estimates 200 desktops can be run from a single IBM server. Virtual Desktop for
Smart Business can be deployed either on a customer's own infrastructure or
through a business partner-provided private-cloud environment.
The IBM Virtual
Desktop (pictured below) enables Windows or Linux desktops to be hosted and managed centrally
and will work with a range of devices, including tablets, netbooks, laptops,
thin clients and servers. One caveat: It's not yet optimized for smartphone
seeing a great deal of interest in this from the health care industry, among
others, because a lot of doctors and health practitioners want to use their
iPads when doing their rounds," CMI President Steve Giondomenica told
eWEEK. "They don't want to be tied down to a desk every time they want to
look up a patient's records. This new virtual desktop works very well with
iPads and other tablet PCs."
Citrix long has
been among the early leaders in this segment, and has a loyal and growing
clientele. Its partner, Kaviza, a promising Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company
founded by former Sun Microsystems veterans, began optioning its VDI software
for hosted services in 2010. Users of mobile PCs-including notebooks, desktops,
iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones-now can access virtualized Windows
desktops using Kaviza's virtual desktop agent along with Citrix Receiver.
software is installed on a server with a hypervisor, Citrix Xen or VMware ESX
4.1, which enables enterprises to run Windows across multiple desktops from one
or more company servers. Citrix can handle a hosted version through partners
like Rackspace, NaviSite and others.
Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., is currently testing a
ground-breaking 250-seat, 1,250-account deployment consisting of a joint
Citrix/Kaviza software package.
secondary desktop [in a window] that any user can bring up on their screen;
their desktop [client] is outside of enterprise-network boundaries," Livermore
National Lab's IT manager and project lead Robin Goldstone told eWEEK.
"Every time an employee checks in, he or she gets a completely fresh new
virtual desktop. No business documents are ever retained on the client; it all
stays in the data center.
Unisys came out with its own hosted enterprise VDI system that has been
well-received by a number of enterprise customers in addition to its own
internal staff, Patricia Titus (pictured)
, Unisys vice president and chief information security
officer, told eWEEK.
think highly of a particular technology, we always want to try it out on
ourselves," Titus said. "We created a consumerized version of the
hosted desktop that uses lightweight apps that can go onto consumer devices
[such as iPads, iPhones and others]. In fact, we created a BYOD-[Bring Your Own
Device]-to-work program to give people device choices. Obviously, because we
have the same challenges everybody else has, we need to do more with less.
"This is a new
business for us. We're really encouraged by the prospects," she added.
A screenshot of the main console of IBM's new Virtual Desktop for Smart Business shows its simple Web-based presentation.