The Virtualization Practice

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With Microsoft reporting that Windows 7 VDI environments can be up to 11% more expensive than Windows 7 with traditional desktops when will desktop virtualisation give you a return on investment? Will performance taxes, license taxes and complexity taxes mean that desktop virtualisation will never be more than a niche service regardless of the clamour from VDI vendors hailing 2011 as the year for VDI as they did in 2010?

Or, is it that the taxation can be accommodated, all be it without short term gains because your business will benefit from the representation of a user’s application set not simply from their cubicle’s monitor?

Todd Nielsen has already succeeded twice at what he is now being asked to do at VMware – once at Microsoft and once at BEA. This time what hangs in the wind is VMware’s ultimate destiny. Will VMware be the device driver to the dynamic data center (vSphere), or will VMware be that and the next generation application platform for IT as a Service and Public Cloud based applications?

Application Virtualization allows users to use potentially conflicting software in the same workspace. Towards the end of 2010 there was a great deal of discussion about the complexity of using application virtualization to finally let corporations end their dealings with the recalcitrant Internet Explorer 6.

In Virtualizing Internet Explorer: Microsoft takes the ball home and goes home we discussed why solving IE6 issues with Application Virtualization is difficult. Then, in December we reported that Browisum had crafted a lifeline and suggested a release date around the end of 2010.

To quote Robert Burns “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley”. Still, Browsium have announced the release candidate to their beta testers. With its release is it time to put IE8 compatibility issues to bed?

At last year’s VMworld in San Francisco Stephen Deasy (Director, R&D, VMware) and Srinivas Krishnamurti (Senior Director, Mobile Solutions, VMware) announced VMware’s plans for a type II mobile hypervisor platform. Three months later VMware and LG have announced a partnership to install VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) on LG smart phones starting in 2011. While significant questions remain about the viability of this partnership, the need for a mobile virtualization solution cannot be stressed enough.

When considering a Virtual Desktop Design a good architect needs to ask “what is the best solution for this environment?” For many, once you’ve considered the needs of your users, it is a combination of desktop delivery models – some virtual, some physical. Ideally the user is unaware of which model is being delivered to them, they consume that service on an appropriate device, at an appropriate time. Ringcube perhaps first to market for this type of solution with their Workspace Virtualization Engine.

Monitoring the performance of the infrastructure, applications and services in IT as a Service environments will require that monitoring solutions become multi-tenant, can be instantiated by ITaaS management tools without any further configuration, and that they automatically “find” their back end management systems through whatever firewalls may be in place. These requirements will probably be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the heavyweight complex legacy tools that were in place prior to to the onset of virtualization, the public cloud and now IT as a Service. ITaaS is the tipping point that should cause most enterprises ignore every monitoring tool that they have bought in the past and to start over with a clean sheet of paper.

Mainstream virtual desktop solutions have focused their efforts on providing the best platform for hosting virtual desktop environments. Hypervisors, image management, and connection brokers are the top feature sets that companies have looked at during their comparisons. Moving up the stack, these vendors are now focusing on user personalization management, but do not have what is considered to be a full desktop management solution. So are our end-to-end virtual desktop solutions really complete?

Ericom has has won the race to deliver the first new product release of the “Year of Desktop Virtualization” with the launch of Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7.

WebConnect (sorry Ericom, but “PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7″ takes too much space on the page to type out every time) is Ericom’s answer to Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, plus or minus a few bells and whistles. On the plus side WebConnect includes mainframe and midrange terminal emulation software to provide access to legacy systems, as well as offering support for mixed environments consisting of servers running Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 grouped together in a single farm, and manages to do all this with a single product where Citrix still requires two.