While there is a lot of interest in desktop virtualization, one of the things that holds a lot of IT organizations back is that desktop virtualization, in particular virtual desktop infrastructure, is not very flexible.
That's why it's worth noting the announcement this week of XenClient at the Citrix Synergy conference. Instead of being wholly dependent on a hypervisor running on a server, the hypervisor can now run a local machine such as a notebook. That means that not only can you run applications disconnected from a server that will synchronize with hypervisors on the server later, it also becomes a lot easier to partition a system between corporate and personal applications.
The implications of a client hypervisor are profound in that it allows IT organizations to stop thinking about managing clients in terms of systems. Instead, all they have to focus on is the hypervisor. End users, in turn, can then opt to buy their own PCs, usually with a stipend from the company, as long as they agree to make a portion of the system available for running corporate applications on top of the hypervisor.
In terms of desktop virtualization, the advent of hypervisors on the client represents a major advance, and IT organizations can expect to see both VMware and eventually Microsoft follow suit. In fact, both Hewlett-Packard and Dell endorsed the Citrix XenClient this week, which can be seen as another indication that desktop virtualization is about to go mainstream.
Of course, once it does, somebody will have to manage this. Companies ranging from new players such as MokaFive and Unidesk are lining up to challenge both established systems management companies, such as Symantec, and the virtual machine software providers for the honor.
In fact, IT organizations would be well advised to start thinking about desktop virtualization from the management layer out, rather than the client in. After all, there are going to be a multitude of clients running any number of virtual machines. The only chance any IT organization is going to have at reining all that chaos in is to find a management framework that pretty much allows end users to do as they please within the confines of data governance policies defined by the IT organization.