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.
On the other hand – Desktop Virtualization, as a task, is complex, it requires different technologies and practices to traditional desktop deployment. The task is further complicated because Desktop Virtualization, as a term, is applied to a variety of solutions. These include VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), HVD (Hosted Virtual Desktops), DaaS (Desktops as a Service), the use of Type 1 or Type 2 Hypervisors to create a “corporate sandbox” on an end-user workstation, and finally some new and enhanced desktop management techniques that deliver benefits of “Desktop Virtualization”, but without the data center server resource typically associated with this type of solution.
A number of vendors offer desktop virtualization solutions – how can you compare those offerings and relate them to what you need your desktop delivery strategy to do for your business?
The Virtualization Security Podcast on 10/7 was the second in a series of Virtual Desktop Security discussions we are having. The special guest panelist was Simon Graham of Virtual Computer, the makers of NxTop a client side hypervisor based on Xen. On this podcast, we went into the details of NxTop.
The engineers at Virtual Computer have thought about nearly everything when it comes to a Client Hypervisor. NxTop operates as a standalone or as a centrally managed client hypervisor. The difference is fairly stark. I feel that most people in the Enterprise would want to use the managed client hypervisor they have a one off situation. NxTop provides the following security features:
- Encryption of the local hard disks
- No local access to the Xen Dom-0 (Domain Zero).
Last month at VMworld, VMware took a major step forward in its desktop virtualization vision with the introduction of View 4.5. On hand for the launch was Gartner Research Vice President Chris Wolf who confirmed that View 4.5’s improved scalability coupled with the addition of role-based delegated administration change auditing features and the ability to support Windows 7 meant that View 4.5 joined Citrix XenDesktop 4.0 in fulfilling Gartner’s requirements for an enterprise-class server hosted virtual desktop platform. Although, View 4.5 is more notable for a feature that is not required to obtain Gartner’s blessing.
Our analysts leave VMworld 2010 having had great fun, having met some most excellent people and having been impressed with interesting vendors. Yet one thing puzzles after attending and discussing what we’ve experienced.
What is the focus of VMware’s Desktop Strategy?
- Is VMware really committed the Desktop Virtualization Market?
- What is VMware’s strategy going forward?
- How will VMware Differentiate from the Competition?
- How will VMware compete with the new vendors looking to disrupt and reinvent the desktop space?
Virtual Computer recently announced the availability of their NxTop product for free for up to five users. NxTop combines centralized virtual desktop management with a “bare-metal” client-hypervisor to make managing many desktops as easy as managing one. But, you may ask, what can a client side hypervisor do for me?
It’s likely you’re one of the 46,000 who have, apparently, downloaded Citrix’s XenClient. Maybe you took one look at the depressingly short hardware compatibility list and thought “it’s not going to work for us”: or maybe, like me, you ignored pretty much all the documentation when you downloaded it and only referenced that list when the XenClient failed to install on the third device. In which case its likely you’re asking ‘it sounds an interesting concept, but I don’t have the hardware to support it’. Maybe you’re one of the many who were expecting VMWare to release something.. sometime… maybe.
We’ve taken a look under the hood of a simple NxTop installation and put together a white-paper, A Look Under the Hood of Virtual Computer’s NxTop, to help you understand the installation requirements and the process of setting up clients and servers. In it we’ve considered the benefits, and issues, of a client-side hypervisor solution and how you can use such a service to manage your environment. How do you license such a service and indeed, how does a client-side hypervisor solution compare to VDI?
A barrier to introducing VDI is often the complexity and high initial costs such a solution can involve. Can you use a bare metal client-side hypervisor to manage your desktops? Should you?
Virtual Computer’s release of NxTop version 2.0 of this month (see http://www.virtualcomputer.com/virtual-computer-ships-nxtop-2) continues to prove their leadership in client-side virtualization by delivering robust features to meet the needs of the corporate desktop. The delayed release of Citrix’ XenClient and VMware’s Client Virtualization Platform (CVP) to the market has left few options for customers whose virtual desktop implementations need to address a larger offline or disconnected use case.
Client-side virtualization can be achieved using one of two methods: a Type-1 hypervisor (CVP, NxTop, or XenClient) where the operating system runs as a virtual guest leveraging a bare-metal hypervisor similar to what is used for server virtualization; or a Type-2 hypervisor (MokaFive and VMware ACE), which are called “hosted” because they are software-based, requiring an underlying operating system. A Type-1 solution gives the greatest user performance because it accesses the local hardware directly through the hypervisor and doesn’t have to share resources with a hosting operating system. On the flip side, Type-1 solutions typically need specific hardware and must be approved by the vendor in order to be supported, whereas Type-2 solutions are only concerned with the hosting operating system.