VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and other virtualization companies stand to benefit further from their virtualization solutions in coming years, at least according to a March 26 report by research firm Gartner, which said that the worldwide hosted virtual desktop market would accelerate through 2013.
Hosted virtual desktops are run as virtual machines on an enterprise server, accessible by end users via a remote device, such as a traditional desktop PC, a laptop, a thin client or, in the future, a smartphone.
As part of that rise, worldwide revenue for the HVD market would grow from about $1.5 billion in 2009 to around $65.7 billion in 2013, or roughly from 1 percent to 40 percent of the worldwide processional PC market.
"PC vendors must prepare for the growth in demand for this client computing architecture by adjusting sales strategies and compensation models or they risk losing expenditure share with enterprise customers," Annette Jump, a Gartner analyst, wrote in the report. "A number of changes in the way users can access applications and client computing capabilities are bringing a number of alternative architectures to the fore."
Virtualization has played a major part in IT companies' emerging long-term strategies.
On March 16, Cisco announced that VMware's virtualization tools would play a vital part in the launch of its Unified Computing system, an ecosystem that will incorporate a new blade server and the VMware virtualization platform.
Sun Microsystems is attempting to counter the VMware Workstation with the xVM VirtualBox 2.1, commercial-grade, no-cost, open-source desktop virtualization software that includes, among other features, support for hardware virtualization (Intel VT-x and AMD-V) on Mac OS X hosts.
And in February 2009, Citrix announced its XenDesktop 3.0, enabling enterprises to centralize the operating system and deliver virtual Windows XP or Vista desktops from both Citrix virtualization environments, but also VMware and Microsoft.
Gartner also predicted that roughly 15 percent of the "current worldwide traditional professional desktop PCs will migrate" to hosted virtual desktops by 2014. Although vendors such as HP and Dell do not offer hosted virtual desktops, the research firm suggests they might "expand their presence in the segment."
Microsoft's partnership with Citrix would drive Microsoft into the HVD-supplier market within the next 18 to 24 months.
"HVDs are part of a bigger shift in client computing from traditional thick-client distributed PCs toward more manageable, secure and centralized client computing environments among many large and midsize companies," Brian Gammage, another Gartner analyst, wrote. "To benefit from this shift, PC vendors don't need to create or even own all the components themselves, but they do need to be able to sell solutions and not just a 'bag of bits.'"
The current recession will inhibit the adoption of HVDs in the short-term, given the necessary server and network-infrastructure investments; after this slow start, however, implementation will begin on a larger scale in 2010 and 2011.
The desire of the enterprise to change its strategic model, from purchasing high volumes of desktop PCs to replacing at least some of those PCs with cheaper units, will eventually trigger rapid HVD adoption growth over the next three to five years.
Editor's Note: This article was revised to correct a XenDesktop version number.