VMware Builds Services for VDI

The company is looking to create new service standards for a virtual desktop infrastructure.

VMware is looking to create new standards for building virtualized desktop computing.

The Palo Alto, Calif., virtualization vendor is launching new services May 19 that are geared toward helping IT departments design, create and eventually deploy an entire virtualized desktop environment.

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This group of services will be offered under VMware Professional Services and is meant to work with the company's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure suite, which creates a virtual environment in the data center, where administrators can manage an entire fleet of corporate desktops.

The VMware service offerings come at a time when IDC found the interest in creating a virtualized desktop environment growing among IT departments; however, the costs and complexity of such the changes, such as concerns about operating system licenses, mean that that many are only experimenting with the technology in a limited way.
What VMware is trying to do, and the reason its customers should care, is it is creating a series of best practices within a new field of computing that could help make it easier to deploy the technology in the future, said Michael Rose, an analyst with IDC.

"In terms of services, there isn't much in the way of best practices out there yet, and it's difficult right now to be a pioneer and build out a virtual desktop infrastructure," said Rose. "A lot of the customers for this are working on it internally now, and it's an initiative being driven by that company's desktop team, and so they are really looking for someone who has best practices when it comes to working on something like what is the best connection broker."

These are the issues VMware is looking to address. For example, one of the new VMware services, called Application Virtualization Jumpstart, will use VMware expertise to ensure that all of the virtualized applications that are streamed from the data center to desktop work with the operating system without conflict.

VMware hinted at this new direction in services when it announced that it would acquire Foedus, a company that provides virtualization technology services for desktops, in January.

There is also growing competition among vendors to enter into the virtualized desktop space, and VMware is looking to remain as the leader of x86 virtualization technology with servers and with PCs. Citrix is expected to announce the availability of its XenDesktop product May 20, and Microsoft is moving closer to offering its Hyper-V virtualization option later this year. In addition, there are a series of smaller companies offering a number of variations on the virtualized desktop.

The other VMware services include the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Jumpstart, the Plan and Design for VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Application Virtualization, and the Remote Office/Branch Office Services Acceleration Kit.

Besides services, VMware is now working with Sun Microsystems to provide a hosted desktop environment. The two companies are planning to announce May 19 that VMware's VDI now works with Sun Ray Server Software for WANs (wide area networks) and the company's thin clients.

The Sun software utilizes the company's own ALP (Appliance Link Protocol), which helps deliver the desktop environment in WAN deployment. Rose said the Sun protocol is an improvement to Microsoft's RDP (remote desktop protocol) and provides VMware users with an alternative to that protocol for delivering the desktop image in a virtual environment.

"What you have now is a solution that customers can deploy end to end that integrates Sun and VMware's VDI solution for their desktop management needs," said Jerry Chen, VMware's senior director of Enterprise Desktop, adding that the low bandwidth that the Sun ALP provides helps in deploying an environment across long distances, such as with remote offices.