Symantec, VMware Pledge Secure Desktop-as-a-Service Offering

Symantec and VMware announced a desktop-as-a-service offering with integrated security and end-to-end application and data management capabilities.

Virtual desktops with security built-in are coming soon to enterprises and IT service providers, according to Symantec and VMware.

Symantec and VMware expanded their strategic partnership to offer desktop-as-a-service applications with integrated security and management, Symantec said Aug. 31. The combined offering will combine Symantec Endpoint Protection and the Altiris Client Management Suite with VMware's virtual desktop and cloud products, including VMware View, vShield, vCloud Director 1.5 and vSphere 5, Symantec said.

Administrators will use Symantec Endpoint Protection and VMware vShield to protect desktops from internal and external threats, regardless of whether they come via email, the Web or storage devices, the company said. The day-to-day demands of managing the environment and the applications installed on the systems will be handled by the management suite.

"Our partnership with VMware demonstrates the commitment by both organizations to jointly innovate with the goal of delivering a differentiated, secure and easy to manage hosted virtual desktop experience," said Chirantan "CJ" Desai, senior vice president of the Endpoint and Mobility Group at Symantec.

Companies are beginning to consider virtual desktop environments to serve mobile employees and to allow employees to access corporate applications on devices other than the PC.

Symantec and VMware's desktop-as-a-service initiative will allow organizations to deploy virtual desktops that are highly resilient, cost-effective and secure, Symantec said.

The DaaS announcement was made at the VMworld 2011 conference, taking place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in Las Vegas. Also at the conference, VMware announced it had added Symantec to its vShield product-development program. As part of the partner ecosystem, Symantec will develop data protection for VMworld's vSphere 5 using the vShield API.

Virtualization is a key area of interest for Symantec as organizations start considering ways to take advantage of the cost benefits of the cloud, Ashish Mohindroo, senior director of enterprise security product marketing at Symantec, told eWEEK. The transition away from physical machines to virtual ones provides Symantec with the opportunity to help organizations secure the new systems against external threats, he said.

Organizations are interested in virtualizing more of their infrastructure and consolidating shared server and storage resources, John Magee, vice president of product marketing for the cloud and virtualization group at Symantec, told eWEEK. They have most likely already migrated test environments, file and print servers, and individual line-of-business applications, Magee said.

However, to get the most out of virtualization, organizations have to migrate business-critical applications, such as e-commerce systems, email, content management and database-intensive applications such as Enterprise Resource Management, Magee said. But many organizations are deterred from doing so because of security and compliance concerns, he said. Disaster recovery also becomes a bigger concern.

That's not to say organizations weren't thinking about security, compliance or disaster recovery for earlier deployments, Magee said. They may have relied on security protections already in place within the enterprise, such as configuring the perimeter to recognize the new virtual machines and protecting the physical host, he said. The business-critical applications generally require VM-specific security, especially if there are compliance or regulatory requirements to fulfill, according to Magee.

"The more important the app, the more important these other concerns become," he said.