VMware is releasing a new beta of its virtualization software for desktops and laptops that it plans on marketing toward enterprise customers concerned about security and mobility.
The beta of VMwares ACE (assured computing environment) 2 is available through the companys Web site starting March 5. The company released the original version of its desktop virtualization software in 2004.
Much like the original version, the Palo Alto, Calif., companys software allows IT administrators to distribute a secure computing environment through a virtual machine.
Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Research, in Hayward, Calif., believes that this type of desktop and laptop virtualization will be of interest to a number of enterprises and smaller companies, especially those with large, mobile workforces.
In addition, King said the software will appeal to universities as a way to manage classrooms, as well as software companies that want to conduct presentations for potential clients.
"I think this is a real solid commercial product that has a lot more functionality than previous versions," King said.
The new beta makes several management and security improvements compared to the previous versions. By using VMwares Management Server, IT administrators can manage and monitor an entire enterprises virtual PCs from a single console.
The software also allows administrators to set policies, security measures, network access and other configurations. This feature also allows for policies to expire after a certain time period, said Jerry Chen, director of enterprise desktop platforms for VMware.
Finally, the software allows users to copy an entire virtual desktop image—the operating system, applications and dat—to a USB flash drive or a portable hard drive. At the same time, an administrator can limit the use of USB ports within the virtual PC environment.
These new features, Chen said, allow enterprises to distribute virtual PCs to contract employees who will leave after a particular job or project has been completed. This also allows employees who use their own personal laptops or desktops access to their work PCs without actually using the originally installed OS and applications.
"If youre a large insurance company and you have salespeople out in the field using their own laptops, the customer data and corporate application can be secured in the virtual PC," Chen said.
VMware, which is owned by EMC, is also marketing the software as way for enterprises to deal with issues like disaster recovery and business continuity.
In addition to some of the other new features, the virtualization software will support both Microsoft Windows and Linux desktop operating systems, including the Windows Vista OS. The beta also offers support for 64-bit PCs, as well as USB 2.0 support.
In the last 12 to 18 months, according to King, Linux desktops have started to take off, and this seems to be a good time to cash in on what could be an important trend.
"Its a really good time to come out with some software that supports Linux," King said, adding that slower adoption of Vista by companies could open the door even more to open-source adoption by companies concerned about price.
This virtualization software will also offer users universal printer and scanner functionality, Chen said.
The software does not support the Macintosh OS X, but the company does produce a second product for Apple desktop and notebooks called "Fusion."