Virtualization tools are an interesting bunch, and Ive been testing Altiris Software Virtualization Solution to see how well it keeps house on our test desktops and laptops. SVS, a new product based on technology obtained via Altiris acquisition of FSLogic, uses a file system filter driver early in the Windows boot-up process to virtualize application use of the Windows file system and registry.
Unlike the products currently most closely associated with virtualization, from VMware, SVS doesnt create virtual machines. There is therefore no correlation between the amount of RAM in the target system and the performance of SVS. (This would normally be one of the first variables Id look for when testing anything with the term "virtualization" in its name or product description.)
So what Im looking for instead are the best applications to virtualize and whether there is a way to get applications to conflict with one another (something Altiris SVS is supposed to prevent, across the board). Im also testing the extent to which it is possible to use SVS along with asset management, software delivery and configuration management tools.
So far Im finding the only things that dont virtualize well with SVS are anti-virus apps and printer drivers, both of which, like Altiris SVS, load early in the Windows boot-up process. Company officials said the next SVS release is intended to address the early boot process and thus virtualize all apps, even those that use system drivers. (A review of SVS will appear in the April 3 issue of eWEEK.)
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