The difference between VDI and intelligent desktop virtualization (IDV) is that the latter is a Type 1 implementation of a hypervisor on the client, sometimes known as client-hosted virtualization. VDI, in contrast, hosts the desktop environment on top of a virtual machine on a server.
Type 1 hypervisors differ from Type 2 hypervisors that are currently more widely deployed in that the Type 1 hypervisor is deployed on top of bare metal. In contrast, the Type 2 hypervisor is deployed on top of a native operating system.
VMware took its first step towards unifying these approaches to desktop virtualization this week with the acquisition of Wanova, a provider of an IDV offering called Mirage that splits Windows into multiple virtual layers. Mirage allows IT organizations to continue to run applications and user data locally, while the Windows base layer, driver library and department application layer are managed and run centrally.
According to Raj Mallempati, VMware director of product marketing for end-user computing, VDI is a good solution for static environments such as call centers, but it's clear that mobile computing systems will require a more flexible approach to desktop virtualization. Furthermore, Mallempati says that VMware intends to unify image management across diverse types of desktop virtualization offerings.
The acquisition of Wanova comes at a time when Microsoft is gearing up to broaden its support for desktop virtualization in the form of Windows 8, which will have more hooks into Microsoft Hyper-V virtual servers. At the same time, Citrix has been able to use its historic strength in terminal services to claim a significant share of the desktop virtualization market.
With Intel's support for IDV it's quite possible that IDV will ultimately wind up being the dominant form of desktop virtualization. That doesn't mean that VDI is going away; it just means that IT organizations might want to start getting use to the idea of managing virtual desktops in all their multiple forms.