Wyse, VMware Split the Desktop from the PC

The companies are delivering products to allow companies to host their desktop operating environments and allow employees to access them on inexpensive Wyse hardware.

Wyse Technologies and VMware are doing the dance of the virtualized desktop.

Wyse on August 2 rolled out hardware designed to support VMwares Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, software that allows companies to host and distribute a Microsoft Windows XP desktop environment located on a server to employees desktops.

The two technology companies, along with several others that are part of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance to promote virtualized desktops, are envisioning an IT world where desktops arent necessarily deployed in PCs anymore.

Instead, the essence of a machine—its user interface, applications and data—is virtualized and hosted on a server, which essentially broadcasts that environment to a user, who can access it with a range of inexpensive hardware.

The approach, which keeps data stored on a server, provides more protection for data and lowers management costs versus PCs and offers a broader range of applications than traditional "thin-clients" that work with Microsoft or Citrix software, the companies said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about the comeback of thin clients.

"The core idea of having these virtual desktops—that they are always on and you can access them from anywhere on the network or even at home—is very compelling for users and very easy for IT to manage," said Jeff McNaught, vice president of marketing and customer support at Wyse in San Jose, Calif.

Wyse will offer a new version of its S Class, a small desktop device, which works with VMwares Virtual Desktop Infrastructure product. The device is fitted with its Wyse Thin OS VDI Edition, an operating system specially developed to work with virtualized desktops.

The S Class, priced at $299, can start up and obtain access to a virtualized desktop within a few seconds. The machine offers the performance of a PC with a 1.8GHz processor. But it does not store data locally, leaving it instead on the server, McNaught said.

The S Class uses an Internet Protocol address or a Domain Name Server name to connect to the virtual desktop it needs and uses HTTP and secure HTTP protocols to communicate back and forth.

Software called a connection broker from VMware or others can be used in larger installations to handle the job of connecting users to the virtual desktops they need.

VMwares Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, for its part, does the work of virtualizing desktop environments and managing server resources. Meanwhile, a single four-processor server with 32GB of RAM will be able to host 65 concurrent users with 65 virtualized desktops, McNaught said.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about VMwares efforts to spread the word about virtualization technology.

While the Wyse virtual desktops could work for most any Windows applications—there are some limitations involving multimedia and at the moment only Windows is supported—Wyse and VMware are targeting a handful of specific areas, including call centers and manufacturers as well as the retail and health care market, McNaught said.

Wyse "will later add features to the OS to make it more like a PC environment," he said.

To that end, Wyse is working with VMware to add support for high quality sound and video, VOIP (voice over IP) and USB peripherals. IT managers will be capable of setting privileges for those USB devices, namely portable drives, McNaught said.

Later this year, Wyse intends to introduce a more capable, yet smaller and less expensive virtual desktop device based on a single chip.

The device, expected to debut at or before VMwares VMworld trade show in early November, will be smaller and faster than any other virtual desktop-style hardware device ever made, McNaught said.

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