Let’s face it: Mac usage is increasing within business environments, and the days of IT departments telling users that they’re unsupported if they purchase a computer with an Apple logo are dwindling.
We’ve discussed the fact that VDI appliance makers were making good progress simplifying adoption of a virtual desktop infrastructure. An appliance-based route to market can be seen as win-win: being designed both to reduce cost and complexity of implementation (for the customer) and shorten sales cycles (for the vendor). So goes the theory. To understand this theory further one VDI appliance vendor, Pivot3, commissioned Dimensional Research to survey global IT in order to get real-world insight into the state of VDI.
The survey showed that over 80% of respondents had VDI in their current strategy. Over 50% of those deploying VDI would utilize new hardware. What was perhaps more interesting was that traditional stall points of VDI, hardware complexity and security, took a back-seat in a list of concerns. The appliance model was undoubtedly popular, but if that problem is solved – what were the main concerns of organisations?
Apple have released their latest OS version. There are over 200 new features including autosaves, versioning, multi-touch gestures, access to the Mac App Store and, multi-user screen sharing. But Apple have not only changed the look and feel of the new, and significantly cheaper OS, they have changed their license terms as well.
One is the inclusion of clause to allow you to run multiple instances of the OS on your own device. A similar clause to one in Microsoft’s Windows 7 and a license feature that would sit well with a client-side hypervisor solution – giving administrators centralised control and management of end-devices. In the Panther and Leopard releases, Apple added features to allow fast user switching and screen sharing: possible precursors to a native Terminal Services function. For some enterprises, a virtual Mac OS X environment would be a desktop Nirvana: giving access to Mac-only applications on-demand without having to supply Mac hardware on a one-to-one basis.
Does the multi-user screen sharing function provide a native Mac Terminal Services solution? Will Lion allow you to virtualize the Mac OS to take pride of place in your desktop delivery strategy and finally maul Microsoft’s Windows dominance?
“Quest Software and Virtual Computer announced a technology alliance to deliver a desktop virtualization and management solution meeting the end-to-end computing needs of large enterprises. This technology provides anywhere, anytime access to both centralized and distributed end-user environments through the integration of Quest® vWorkspace client and Virtual Computer NxTop 3.0 enterprise platform. The combined solution will dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of deploying and managing corporate desktops, while improving desktop delivery options for stationary and mobile users”. So ran the Virtual Computer announcement just before the kick-off for VMworld. You can read the full announcement here, which joined a flurry of initiatives from Quest.
In considering desktop virtualization many solely focus on solutions provided by Citrix and VMware. Quest’s vWorkspace has the background in delivering server based computing solutions to optimize the desktop; it has enterprise implementations. Quest Software are arguably The Quiet Man of desktop virtualization. Can these announcements help provide Quest Software the opportunity to herald vWorkspace can match, if not best, features that Citrix, VMware and other VDI vendors provide? Does the alliance offer Virtual Computer a wider opportunity to demonstrate how their NxTop solution can be used to deliver on desktop management? How does this announcement change what options are available to you in delivering you desktop strategy?
One announcement that is unlikely to be made at VMworld in 2010 is the release of VMware’s Client Hypervisor. While VMware may have got accustomed to dominating the world of server virtualization, its attempts to become the de-facto virtualization vendor on the desktop haven’t gone quite as well. Despite it being nearly two years since announcing its “vClient initiative“, VMware has yet to announce a delivery date for the proposed client side hypervisor component. Citrix, on the other hand, is proudly touting XenClient. Other vendors, such as VirtualComputer are actively promoting their products.
Its likely Citrix will have beaten VMware to delivering a Client Hypervisor. While XenClient is currently a Release Candidate version, Citrix announced that the v1.0 will be released with XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 2 in September 2010.
Is the lack of Client Hypervisor (CHv) a problem for VMware in delivering a complete desktop solution to customers? Indeed, is the CHv technology viable for business use now? And when (and if) it is a viable technology, where should a CHv be considered in your desktop strategy? What could a Client Hypervisor be used for?
Citrix have finally made their much touted bare metal hypervisor for desktop devices – XenClient – available for download. This release closely follows that of Virtual Computer, the market leader in distributed desktop virtualization announcing the availability of NxTop Connect. And indeed, only recently Neocleus, makers of NeoSphere signed a technology licensing agreement with BigFix a leading solutions provider.
Both Virtual Computer and Neocleus are small organizations in comparison to Citrix: why would Citrix extend their wide virtualization portfolio to include a bare metal hypervisor for desktop devices? What features would be necessary to make this such a service viable? Where is Citrix’s normal sparring partner VMware? Could such a solution help organizations deliver their IT services more effectively?