The Latest Tweaks to the Virtual Desktop

Arthur Cole
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When Is It Right for a Business to Consider Desktop Virtualization?

Tips for determining whether desktop virtualization is right for your business.

As we saw yesterday, the main purpose of VMworld is giving VMware a chance to show off its ownership of the data center universe. By commanding the virtual layer, the company has shown that it can make the IT universe jump when it wants to with each new product launch.

But what may hold true for servers, storage and networking has proved to be a little more problematic when it comes to the desktop. Here, VMware is one of many players attempting to push desktop virtualization into the mainstream, which so far has been met with only moderate success.

At VMworld, the company has touted the latest VDI (virtual desktop interface) advancements in the new View 5.0 platform, namely increased personalization capabilities and enhanced WAN compatibility. The company has reworked some of the system's PCoIP protocols to cut streaming bandwidth by 75 percent and has added to client-side cache in order to run heavy-data applications, like Flash animation, locally. Enterprises will also find it easier to deploy applications and manage custom settings with the new Persona Management module recently acquired from RTO Software.

Making it easier for enterprises to launch virtual desktop infrastructure is, quite naturally, a key goal behind much of the development these days. Liquidware Labs hopes to tap into this movement with the Stratusphere Designer system that helps organizations with their Windows 7 migration. The software allows organizations to gauge VDI's impact on a number of fronts, including usage patterns, applications, storage and networking, ultimately speeding up the migration process and producing a more efficient data environment by highlighting potential trouble spots.

Many of the new virtual desktop platforms offer speedy deployment and simplified management strategies as well. For instance, VCE has introduced the Vblock FastPath platform that is heavy on automation and application management as a means to simplify the provisioning and scaling of virtual desktop infrastructure. The company is backed by VMware, EMC, Intel and Cisco, so it's probably a good bet that it has an edge in integrating VDI into the wider data center environment.

At the same time, companies like NxTop are already pushing past traditional VDI architectures by combining centralized management with increased endpoint capabilities. The goal is to provide the kind of flexibility that enterprise admins need to govern virtual desktops while preserving user customization and reducing the load on already stressed server, storage and networking resources. The NxTop platform features a new option that allows desktops to boot off existing centralized storage without specialized networking or array configurations.

It seems that the vendor community has been tweaking VDI technology for some time but just can't seem to hit the sweet spot that captures the imagination of the enterprise community. In all likelihood, we'll close out 2011 with bold new predictions that 2012 will, finally, be the year of the virtual desktop.

However, with enterprise infrastructure undergoing such rapid change and seeing new levels of diversity with each passing month, it may be impossible for any one technology to take over the industry as in days gone by. That probably won't stop people from trying, but it does mean that we may have to rethink our definition of a "successful" enterprise technology.

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