Vision for the virtual

01 Oct 10

Virtualisation of the desktop is a powerful tool that, with the right solution, has the potential to deliver a desktop, or applications, to any user on any device. With Gartner estimating that the market will grow to over 50 million units by 2013, desktop virtualisation is playing an increasing role in an organisation’s desktop strategy and bottom line.
Virtualisation of the desktop can best be achieved by utilising multiple delivery methods, such as hosted shared desktops, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), local streamed desktops and local virtual machine-based desktops. To date the off-line and mobile user has been challenging to manage due to their disconnected state.
Today, a new offering is emerging in the form of client-side virtualisation. Generally regarded as the fi nal and most sophisticated piece of the desktop virtualisation jigsaw, the crucial difference is that these PCs incorporate a chipset containing a built-in hypervisor.
With desktop virtualisation adoption burgeoning, organisations must understand the profi les of their employees in order to develop their desktop strategy. Some employees may need access to a predefi ned set of applications and benefi t from a consistent, secure connection. Meanwhile, other users may be more mobile, requiring fast access to a range of applications from varied locations and from different devices.
While the iPad has raised a lot of questions from CIOs, analysts and the industry, around its limitations, including its inability to multi-task and display fl ash and Windows applications, virtualising the desktop overcomes these limitations by enabling workplace fl exibility and user mobility on any device, as employees’ consumption habits evolve.
Through client-side virtualisation, organisations can tackle the increasing business imperative to cater for a mobile workforce, by extending the benefi ts of virtualising the desktop to laptop users, for enhanced levels of fl exibility, security and control. Through a type 1 or bare metal hypervisor – a thin layer of software that runs on top of the hardware – the operating system can be separated from the underlying hardware, providing isolation between the virtual machines.
For an employee, this means that a single laptop can carry a work environment, with access to required applications, networks and data, as well as a personalised environment for non-work computing, effectively creating two ‘virtual machines’ that run simultaneously, and yet are completely separate. As far as the technology is concerned, one machine can be totally unaware of the other virtual machine to the extent that even the cut and paste facility will not work from one virtual machine to the other. Similarly, a computer virus contracted through the personal environment cannot go on to infect the work environment’s virtual machine.
With organisations needing to manage and secure their PC fl eet, while meeting the demands of its mobile workforce, a client-side virtualisation solution that includes automatic saving of any data created by corporate applications in an encrypted directory, is particularly useful for contractors or employees in a Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) programme, where it’s necessary to facilitate offl ine access to corporate data from personal devices.
As PC hypervisors ship in notebooks, desktop and clientside virtualisation present a huge opportunity for the channel to grow their own business, while defi ning their customer’s business strategy and bottom line.

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