The Virtual Desktop Chess Match

Arthur Cole

Like a chess match, top virtualization vendors are putting their pieces in place to see who will dominate the next phase of the virtual data center: the desktop.


So far, competing strategies for the virtual desktop market consist largely of new tools and industry alliances to foster as much support as possible in what looks to be a wide open contest. Unlike the old days when customers had to lock into a particular vendor's platform for the long haul, enterprises today have a much greater ability to mix and match hardware and software to suit their specific needs.


VMware has come out with a new set of virtual desktop management tools designed to give administrators greater peace of mind when it comes to establishing and securing resources under the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Virtual Desktop Manager 2 broadens management to thousands of virtual desktops and shortens the provisioning process from hours to minutes, according to VMware has garnered support from Dell, HP, IBM, NEC and Wyse Technology.


Also on board is ClearCube, which has introduced a range of infrastructure products designed to reduce the network latency that virtual desktop users often encounter. The company has a new PC blade, the R1350, based on Intel Core 2 Duo processors, as well as the I9420 desktop extension device that expands the range between server and client. The company also has a new digital fiber C/Port, the C7420, which offers full bandwidth video across any distance.


With the Xen system well in hand, it looks like VMware's top rival will be Citrix. InfoWorld reports the company just launched XenDesktop with claims that it will outperform standalone desktops and will allow for personal touches like individual screen savers and other settings.


Citrix is also lining up allies, not the least of which is Microsoft and its new in-house desktop virtualization capabilities courtesy of the recently acquired Calista Technologies. Devon IT, a provider of thin client terminals, is offering a bundled package that includes IBM servers, Windows licenses, the Xen hypervisor and connection broker software -- virtually everything you need to start from scratch.


While it's true that many of you are just getting started with server virtualization, like in chess it never hurts to keep your eyes several steps ahead so that by the time you are ready to make a move, you'll at least have an idea of where you want to go.

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