VMware-Led Alliance Promotes Virtual Desktops

By working together to provide interoperable hardware and software, members of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance aim to speed enterprise adoption of virtualized corporate desktops.

Software maker VMware is envisioning an IT world where desktops arent deployed—theyre hosted on a server.

To that end, the company on April 24 announced the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance, a pact between several companies to promote so-called virtual desktops, which are hosted on servers, but available to desk-bound workers.

Among the alliance members are some of the more well-known thin-client makers, such as Wyse Technologies, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, as well as blade desktop manufacturers such as ClearCube, and big names such as IBM.

Whereas thin clients, blade desktops and virtual desktops all serve the same purpose, VMware contends that virtual desktops offer the best mix of features: They offer the convenience of a desktop PC, including individualized access to applications and data, but offer the security of a thin client, by keeping data on a server and controlling access to it, company officials said.

Thus, the creation of the VDI Alliance is intended to speed the adoption of virtualized desktops by fostering interoperability among alliance members products and generally speeding up the improvement of virtualized desktop bundles.

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"The goal of the VDI Alliance is to make it easier for our customers to buy and deploy these solutions," said Jerry Chen, director of enterprise desktops at VMware in Palo Alto, Calif. "The objective here is to make life simpler [for] the customer first."

VMware has seen greater interest in virtualized desktops, of late, as regulatory pressures have forced IT managers to think harder about how to secure the sensitive data their companies work with, Chen said.

Virtualized desktop products produced by the alliance will allow company IT departments to use VMware virtualization software, along with hardware and software from numerous alliance members, to create a desktop environment for each employee—an instance of Windows with a suite of applications and respective to go with it, for example—that can be accessed just about anywhere a network connection is present.

To be sure, VMware will gain from the alliance by expanding its purview with customers, as alliance-derived products will use its virtualization software and at least some of its APIs. Alliance members will also collaborate on testing and integration of their desktop-hosting hardware and software products with each others wares and VMwares software.

The alliance isnt likely to pepper products with stickers that proclaim interoperability. But, thanks to its work, IT managers will be able to mix and match between the various products, creating bundles that meet their needs, and VMware said it expects that to speed adoption.

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"What VMware does is give you that flexibility," Chen said. "Were working with all these system partners. We give the customer the power and freedom to mix and match things through the VDI Alliance."

Alliance members include Altiris, Appstream, Ardence, ATOS Origin, Check Point Software Technologies, Devon IT, Dunes Technologies, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, LeoStream, NComputing, NEC, Platform Computing, Propero, Provision Networks, Route1, Softricity and Zeus Technology.

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