The Virtualization Practice

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The desktop virtualization year opened with a bang at CES with the explosion of vendor announcements introducing the next generation of mobile tablets. The obvious winner this year being Apple and the iPad but with many more vendors showing off Windows-based tablets including HP, Archos and Pegatron, as well as Android tablets from manufacturers such as Archos (again), Compal, Dell, HP (again), and Motorola. The key challenge of course being the delivery of existing enterprise applications onto these platforms, something that’s desktop virtualization and presentation virtualization is ideally suited for. The inescapable consequence of this was a steady stream of announcements from Citrix, VMware, and Wyse as they leapfrogged each other’s announcements on availability, functionality, and usability of their respective mobile tablet client offerings. The level of competitiveness here producing major benefits for potential adopters as each strove to outdo the other in terms of user experience innovation and performance.

MokeFive Suite is an enterprise desktop management platform that is used to create and administer layered virtual desktop images called ‘LivePCs’ which execute as guests on a type II hypervisor. LivePC images are authored using the MokaFive Creator which also serves as a test platform to simulate and end-users experience. LivePC images can be stored on centralized or distributed file stores. MokaFive also provides support for Amazon S3 storage, which can be of significant value in managing highly distributed environments, or run directly off USB flash drives. MokaFive LivePCs are effectively hypervisor agnostic; support is currently available for VMware’s free Player and the open source Virtual Box. Beta support for Parallels Workstation is new in MokaFive Suite 3.0, and MokaFive’s own bare metal platform will be shipping in Q1 2011.

In the last Virtualization Security podcast on 12/2 we had with us members of the PCI DSS Virtualization Special Interest Group (SIG). Kurt Roemer of Citrix and Hemma Prafullchandra of HyTrust joined us to discuss the differences to the PCI DSS 2.0 with respect to virtualization. In essence, PCI DSS explicitly calls out the need to bring virtualization, people, and processes in scope.

As we discussed in a previous article, the PCI DSS 2.0 does not state exactly what needs to be assessed within the virtual environment, or even what part of the virtual environment is a concern of each aspect of the PCI DSS. What the PCI DSS 2.0 does do is change the language, however subtle, that technologies employing shared resources are now acceptable.

DesktopVirtualization

Can you use Desktop Virtualization in your organization to improve IT delivery? Desktop Virtualization, as a concept, is straightforward – separate the desktop environment from the physical machine. This gives you benefits in terms of speed of delivery, how you can provide access to mobile and remote workers, how you can ensure security and compliance.

If you are a hyperscale (such as for the Cloud) data center manager, one of your top concerns is always how to get the maximum amount of computing work done per Watt of power consumed. With that in concern at the forefront Cloud Providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have strong incentives to explore new solutions to delivering compute cycles. Rumors coming out of Facebook suggest that it is looking to move away from its current X86 architecture platform in favor of servers based on ARM Holdings Cortex processor range. Porting an entire service to a new processor platform may not appear to be a sensible direction to take but porting to a new architecture is more a financial consideration than a technical one. If the cost per unit of performance justifies it , it is cheaper to pay a few programmers to rework the apps for a new architecture than it is to buy more servers.