Dreaming of Universal Data Access

Michael Vizard

With the proliferation of first smartphones and soon a whole new class of netbooks and ultralight notebooks, lots of end users are starting to dream about the day when they can access any file anywhere from any device.

Desktop virtualization, once we get past some immature squabbling over protocol standards, is going to play a big role in making that happen. But to achieve that, IT organizations are going to need to support personalization of desktops across thousands of end users. One company working on helping to achieve that goal is AppSense, which makes software that allows organizations to keep track of how each desktop image has been personalized by an end user.

According to AppSense vice president of worldwide marketing Pete Rawlinson, AppSense early next year will make it possible for IT organizations using desktop virtualization to also centrally manage applications that have been loaded on a desktop by the end user. That means that instead of being wholly dependent on the IT organization for their application choices, end users could still retain some freedom of control over their individual desktop.

Longer term, Rawlinson says AppSense's goal is to provide the underlying policy engine that will make it possible to manage universal access from any device access virtual desktop services, and then synchronize the data being accessed by different devices at different times. That means that when an end user accesses data via a netbook, only the applications they need will be streamed to them, and then once that data is updated, all the devices that the end user owns would be synchronized with those new updates via the same central service.

Key enabling technologies required to make this vision happen include the deployment of hypervisors on client machines, which are expected to be available from Citrix and VMware in the spring.

There's no doubt that every vendor that manages clients is thinking about similar strategies for 2010. The day when end users commonly have notebooks, a smaller more portable computing device and a smartphone is not very far off. We just need the underlying virtual infrastructure and the service providers that would provide the service to catch up to the concept.

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