Vendors fight it out over desktop virtualisation
Network, telecoms and OS vendors jump on the virtual bandwagon
By Kevin Fogarty | CIO US | Published: 16:00, 18 November 2010
Other vendors also leaped into the desktop virtualisation market in the past two weeks, some unexpectedly:
- The Virtual Computing Environment, a vendor group formed by Cisco, EMC, Intel and VMware, released a set of applications and the Cisco server/networking hardware to run them called Vblocks, which come with applications configured and ready to run when the hardware is plugged in. The first Vblocks run VMware's View 4.5 desktop virtualisation package.
- Unified communications vendor Mitel announced a set of cloud-based communications servers designed to run either in public clouds or cloudified data centres.
- Telecoms vendor Avaya announced a package it called the Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture provides products and reference architecture designed to help build low-latency networks to support multimedia or virtualised applications.
- Tiny Desktone announced the Desktone Cloud, a service built on infrastructure maintained by Rackspace that provides remote-hosted desktops (Desktop as a Service) to end users.
- The latest version of the Fedora Linux distribution, announced last week, comes with extensive virtual desktop capabilities and the ability to run remotely on Amazon's EC2 cloud platform.
For many end users, web apps enough?
Though the rush of announcements has spurred headlines like a recent one in the Wall Street Journal that warned "Cisco Aims to Replace Your PC", a completely virtualised desktop will probably never be the preferred workstation for corporate end users, according to Chris Wolf, research vice president at Gartner.
"We continue to see clients using streaming applications in some instances and shared hosted desktops and for people who need it, VDI or, when you're talking about tablets and other devices, virtual clients that work offline [such as receiver]", Wolf says. "What we'll probably end up seeing is many or most corporate desktops or laptops virtualised to some degree, even if it's just one streamed application. Only a small and probably relatively fixed percentage would be based on a full VDI or hosted OS model."
It's the potential in being able to partially virtualize many or most desktops that provides the incentive for both integrators selling the technology and vendors developing it, according to Bill Hurley, chief technology officer of $3 billion global IT distributor Westcon Group, which sells and services IT products for telecom service providers, regional and national resellers and integrators in 70 countries.
Cloud computing is growing far more quickly than desktop virtualisation, Hurley says. The high capacity, low-latency networks that support high performing cloud-based applications meet most of the same specifications needed to support virtual desktops.
"Once you get beyond a three-tier network for WAN/SAN/LAN to a fabric-based network you have an environment with much greater flexibility and more data running across it and can do a lot more than you could in a dual or single-tier network," Hurley says. "We're just starting to build up a business in desktop, but we expect it to grow pretty quickly as well [as the faster growth in cloud computing]."