VMware Expands Desktop Virtualization

With new technology and some key acquisitions, VMware is looking to offer more options for enterprises exploring hosted desktop models.

PALO ALTO, Calif.-VMware is continuing to reinvent its desktop virtualization offerings.

While the majority of the virtualization company's efforts to date have focused on servers and the management of virtual environments, VMware has also spent a good deal of time, and money, looking at emerging ways to create hosted desktop environments that are centrally managed through the data center.

Within VMware, the company is pursuing two different tracks to desktop virtualization. The company offers products such as ACE (assured computing environment) for partitioning individual desktops and laptops. It's also evolving its VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) suite for creating a centralized desktop environment where all the images are managed and controlled in the data center.

Now, VMware is looking to add new dimensions to its VDI suite.

Through its January acquisition of Thinstall, VMware is looking to add an application streaming component to its VDI suite, which allows applications to be stored in the data center and then streamed to the desktop when needed.

At its European showcase last month, VMware also talked about an experimental technology dubbed "Scalable Virtual Images," where virtualization technology creates a single master image within a server and the individual desktop images are created or cloned from that master image, making patching and security easier, said Jerry Chen, senior director of VMware's Enterprise Desktop division.

Even with these advances coming, VMware and other vendors-Citrix through its acquisition of XenSource is exploring streaming models and other technology-the industry remains unsure of how all this will unfold.

No favorite

A recent survey by Intel shows an interest by enterprises in exploring alternatives to traditional desktop deployments, but the report found that no particular model has emerged as a favorite among IT managers. The report also shows that administrators do not anticipate adopting one of these models within the next two years.

Some analyst also believe that many businesses do not want to rip out and replace their current infrastructures for untested models, despite the promise of better manageability and less desktop visits by the IT department.

Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said part of the problem with these models is that it reminds both IT departments and users about the difficulties in bringing the thin-client PC model into the enterprise during the last 10 years and the limitations of this type of computing.

"For some reason, things have been talked about for year after year and the technology always looks great, but the adoption never seems to go beyond a small number of companies," King said. "The staff doesn't seem to understand and with the cost of PCs continuing to drop, it just seems easier to replace the older ones when the time comes."