As mobile computing devices continue to proliferate across the enterprise, it's becoming clear that the gulf between these devices and traditional PCs is continuing to widen. The simple fact of the matter is that people have data on a mobile computing device that needs to be integrated with data running on a PC or vice versa. But actually making that happen can be a challenge.
To address this issue, IBM rolled out a new Virtual Desktop for Smart Business that leverages desktop virtualization software to allow users of mobile computing devices to access PCs running Windows or Linux. Priced at $150 per user per year, the new offering can be deployed on premise by an IT organization or delivered as a service via one of IBM's business partners, says Ed Abrams, IBM vice president of midmarket marketing.
There are some nuances at work in terms of how IBM intends to bring this technology to market. Abrams says the Virtual Desktop software is aimed distinctly at midmarket customers. IBM has a separate desktop virtualization service in the cloud that is aimed at larger customers, although it's pretty clear that many enterprise-class customers pretty much have the same need to access files from a mobile computing device and that there is nothing really to stop them from buying Virtual Desktop for Smart Business.
Oddly enough, both the IBM Virtual Desktop and the company's cloud computing service make use of virtual desktop infrastructure software from Virtual Bridges. The company's Verde 5 software has the ability to run on premise, in a branch office or in the cloud as part of an effort to unify virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) management across all those environments.
It's pretty clear that when it comes to desktop virtualization in 2011, IT organizations will not only be dealing with PCs running in hybrid modes, but also a range of mobile computing devices that will essentially be virtual clients to both PCs and standard servers. In addition, it's also quite possible that IT organizations are going to find themselves managing different approaches to desktop virtualization depending on their application requirements.
If you're getting confused about desktop virtualization these days, you're hardly alone. You might even be tempted to just forget the whole thing in order to concentrate on upgrading clients to Windows 7. But the simple fact of the matter is that for a variety of cost and productivity reasons, desktop virtualization has become a priority in both the midmarket and the enterprise.
The real challenge is going to be finding a rational way to manage desktop virtualization at a high enough level of abstraction above the core underlying technologies so as they continue to evolve they won't drive you crazy.