Client-Side Virtualization

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-03-21 Print this article Print


Client-Side Virtualization

The third, and least mature, form of desktop virtualization is the sort of client-side virtualization approach evinced by recent Microsoft acquisition Kidaro, VMware's ACE, Sentillion's vThere and Qumranet's SolidICE.

Where virtual desktop infrastructure and server-based computing products focus on connecting users to desktop environments hosted on a back-end server, client-side virtualization products move the focus to individual users' hardware.

The biggest advantage of this desktop virtualization route is that it works in offline scenarios and adds some interesting deployment flexibility-with the ability to, for example, deploy a virtual desktop on a USB key.

However, client-side virtualization requires beefier user hardware than does virtual desktop infrastructure or server-based computing, both of which can operate over thin-client hardware as well as over standard desktop or notebook hardware.

But the biggest concern surrounding client-side virtualization is security.

Unlike the server-based computing and virtual desktop infrastructure models, in which data resides on a remote server, the client-side route places potentially sensitive information on much more easily lost or stolen hardware.

What's more, with user systems-including, potentially, systems that fall outside the control of one's IT department-playing host to virtual environments, a company's potential attack surface increases significantly.

Looking forward, the availability of thin, secure hypervisors running atop client hardware might enable IT departments to carve out a secure piece of a user's system while allowing users to do as they wish with their own isolated portions of these systems.


As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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