Virtualization Helps Tackle BYOD Challenges

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When Is It Right for a Business to Consider Desktop Virtualization?

Tips for determining whether desktop virtualization is right for your business.

If you don't have a desktop virtualization program under way already, you've probably missed the boat. But that might not be as bad as it seems considering the technology looks set to morph into an entirely new product category.

Surprisingly, it's not the virtualization part of the equation that is facing radical change, but the desktop. As more users find themselves conducting business on mobile platforms, virtualization developers are already scoping out opportunities in mobile or device virtualization. And as is often the case, features and functionality will vary across platforms, but the goal remains the same: to afford as much flexibility to access enterprise data and applications regardless of client technology.

For example, Oracle has updated its Oracle VDI platform, Sun Ray thin client software and Oracle Virtual Desktop Client system and bundled them into an integrated package to provide greater commonality between the traditional desktop and mobile user experience. The move places all three systems under a single security framework and provides for greater data transfer and collaboration capabilities, even for high-definition and multimedia projects. At the same time, the bundle provides mobile access to new Sun ZFS storage appliances, as well as both Oracle and third-party local storage systems.

As well, Citrix System is bending much of its development toward mobile empowerment, adding a number of collaboration, file-sharing and other applications to its virtual portfolio while at the same time forging tighter integration into the Citrix Receiver and XenClient platforms. The result is that users can tap into enterprise environments more easily while retaining most or all of the applications and services that are available to traditional desktop users. Look for even greater synergy between mobile and stationary environments once systems built around the Citrix HDX SoC platform hit the channel.

Virtualization, in fact, is emerging as a key requirement in the burgeoning "Bring-Your-Own-Device" (BYOD) movement, as it simplifies some of the key integration issues when folding personal technology into enterprise environments. Toronto's Wave Accounting, for instance, has largely outsourced its data infrastructure to cloud providers and allows employees to operate on the device of their choice. The group maintains security and data integrity by offering virtual workspace instances, which can be kept completely separate from personal operating environments.

This kind of mobile virtualization also should put an end to one of the more comical sights of recent times, the harried knowledge worker juggling multiple phones and/or tablets, says CRN's Kevin McLaughlin. Through either bare metal or application level deployment, mobile hypervisors offer the kind of flexibility that has driven efficiency in server, storage and networking environments for years, except this time the benefits go directly to end users.

It's one of the basic laws of computing that new operating environments create new markets, and it seems that BYOD is living up to this tradition. The intersection of mobile and cloud technology has produced an entire ecosystem of users, service providers and technology developers, many of whom are functioning in two or even all three of these roles.

Of course, it's also true that interoperability stops at the platform level. You probably won't be seeing mobile users enjoying the benefits of Oracle and Citrix environments simultaneously anytime soon. But that is a battle for another day.

In the meantime, enjoy the level of freedom that is available now, perhaps by getting up and walking around.