Intel, VMware Bringing Virtualization to Laptops, Desktops

Intel and VMware are both looking to bring virtualization technology onto individual desktops and laptops. At the VMworld Europe 2009 conference, VMware and Intel announced that VMware would begin shipping a bare-metal hypervisor for PCs that utilizes Intel's Core 2 Duo processors and Intel's vPro technology. The agreement is similar to one Intel inked with Citrix earlier this year.

Intel and VMware are looking to bring virtualization technology straight to the PC hardware itself with a new offering that combines a bare-metal VMware hypervisor and Intel's line of Core 2 Duo processors and management technology.

At the VMworld Europe 2009 conference, which kicked off Feb. 24, VMware announced that it would partner with Intel to ship its Client Virtualization Platform or CVP - a bare-metal hypervisor that brings client virtualization to individual desktops and notebooks - to PC vendors at a later date.

The VMware CVP will utilize Intel's Core 2 Duo processors as well as the chip maker's Centrino 2 platform for laptops. In addition, IT departments can then control and manage the different virtual environments through Intel's vPro technology - a chip bundle that allows administrators to manage, security and update a corporate PC fleet.

What this type of virtualization does is allow employees to use one laptop or desktop for both personal and professional use. While a user can keep some personal information - pictures, music - contained in one virtual environment, the IT department can control and monitor another virtual environment within the PC that is dedicated to business use.

The idea is to keep corporate data and desktop images separate from personal information, especially as more and more employees bring their personal laptops into different business networks. The virtual environments and Intel's vPro also allow IT departments to isolate and monitor any malware or virus within an individual client.

At the same time, a user can take advantage of the graphics and processing power of a fully functional desktop or laptop.

In 2008, VMware CEO Paul Maritz introduced the company's plan to bring virtualization to a whole range of different devices, including individual PCs and even smartphones. For PCs, Maritz called this new suite of products VMware View, which is also part of VMware's plan to expand x86 virtualization from a server consolidation tool to the foundation of a new type of data center and IT infrastructure where resources are controlled and allocated in a cloud computing environment.

While virtualization companies such as VMware and Parallels have offered software to create virtual environments within desktops and notebooks, VMware is looking to bring the technology down into the hardware itself. This approach is similar to the bare-metal hypervisors that now ship with many different servers from Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM.

In January, Intel and Citrix announced a similar partnership to develop a bare-metal hypervisor that works with the management and security components of Intel's vPro. At the same time, companies such as Phoenix Technologies are also looking to build virtualization capabilities into the BIOS layer of PCs.

VMware did not discuss when it would deliver this bare-metal hypervisor for PCs and the company did not announce a specific price range. Citrix is looking to deliver its first client virtualization offer to PC vendors later this year.