LAS VEGAS-While the balance of the VMworld conference has focused on the data center and building the cloud computing infrastructure of tomorrow, VMware is also looking to solve what CEO Paul Maritz calls the “desktop dilemma.”
The idea of creating a better and more enhanced version of a virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, is high on VMware’s agenda, and the company plans to roll out a suite of technologies and services that it now calls VMware View.
The idea of VMware View is not only to bring virtual appliance- and server-based computing to traditional “thick” desktop client or thin-client PCs, but also to allow users to tap into the same technology if they are using a notebook or any of a number of smaller mobile devices such as smart phones and PDAs. It also allows IT departments to monitor, manage and secure data from a centralized location with a comment interface.
During his opening address here Sept. 16, Maritz said while the focus and the revenue from virtualization have lately centered on server and data center consolidation, the desktop is one area where virtualization will shift to next, changing the way people interact with a number of different clients from traditional PCs to the Apple iPhone.
“We as a company have continued to address … server-side virtualization as well as client-side virtualization,” Maritz said. “So, today, we are the leader in both server-side and client-side virtualization, and if you look at our parts such as VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion, those are the parts that will allow us to give customers a rich client-side virtualization experience. Now we can take those parts, along with other technologies we are developing, to address the desktop dilemma once and for all.”
The idea is to have the user’s information and what application he or she uses contained in the data center and then allow that user to access the virtual application and data from different devices. At the same time, software will check and secure a user’s identity within the data center and allow an IT department to monitor the entire platform.
It’s important to remember that VMware has only offered a road map of how all these technologies will come together, whether with cloud computing or VDI. Many of these products, including the specific software layer that VMware will use to create a virtual environment within individual desktops, are not slated for release until 2009 and beyond.
VMware Embraces Devices
Maritz also said VMware wants to be agnostic when it comes to devices.
While thin-client PCs have been the main endpoint device that people think of for these types of virtual desktop infrastructures, Maritz said he believes that VMware can offer services and virtualization that work with traditional, “thick” desktops, laptops and even smart phones.
“What I thought was interesting about Maritz’s talk was that he was trying to broaden the discussion about the virtual desktop away from the thin client,” said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Research. “Thin clients have been around for decades and they have not been as popular as the vendors who make them say they are. If you take it a step further, it allows virtualization to be taken to a level that will allow for the provision of services, such as video gaming and mobile access to information. At that point, they are asking what technology they need to facilitate ubiquitous, on-demand information.”
In order to achieve this, VMware is reaching out to partner with as many vendors as possible to address issues of delivering virtual applications and virtual machines to the client.
For instance, Maritz said VMware is now partnering with Teradici, which has developed a silicon-based technology that compresses rendered display data and USB signals into a digital format and then sends a signal from a company’s network through an IP network to the desktop that gives the PC user a better, richer desktop image. VMware is also working with Hewlett-Packard to improve its desktop protocol technology in order to deliver a better image to the client.
Citrix Systems, which is looking to challenge VMware in the desktop virtualization space, is also looking to improve its own protocol and better integrate with its virtualization technology. The company has already announced plans to enhance the Citrix XenDesktop, which uses the Citrix ICA (Independent Computing Architecture) protocol, with a virtual infrastructure for hosting virtual desktops in the data center based on Citrix XenServer.
VMware is also looking to partner with a number of PC vendors, including thin-client specialist Wyse Technology, and Hewlett-Packard, which makes both traditional PCs and thin clients.