The Virtual Workstation: Bigger than the Data Center?

Arthur Cole

Ever since Parallels came out with virtualization software allowing you to run Windows and the Mac OS on a Mac workstation, people have been wondering how long it would take VMware to get into the act. Well, the company finally let slip that it is working on the Fusion platform that will let IntelMacs run any number of x86 operating systems.


This, of course, coincided with news from Microsoft that not only had it bundled the former Softricity's virtualization system, now named Softgrid, into its new Desktop Optimization Pack, but that it also released the beta of its Virtual PC 2007.


Why all this activity over virtual workstations? Well, for one thing, it's a way to allow customers to do more with less. Ideally, there will be no more need for separate Mac/PC shops within the same firm. Heck, there might not be a need for one computer per employee anymore. A single desktop could house several distinct operating systems for those workers not tied to the keyboard all day.


The downside, of course, will be data management. Storage platforms will require new layers of software to identify and catalog multiple presences on individual pieces of hardware. But that's a problem that seems manageable.


We expect that servers and storage will continue to draw much of the attention when it comes to virtualization. But in terms of network efficiency and the way business activity is conducted in the future, changes to the workstation will probably have an equal, if not greater, impact.

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