Desktop Virtualization sans the Hypervisor

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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.

Now that more IT organizations than ever are starting to consider the merits of desktop virtualization, much of the debate over which approach is best has centered on the differences between Type 1 and 2 hypervisors. Type 2 hypervisors are deployed on top of operating systems to allow a guest operating system to share the same physical hardware as another. Type 1 hypervisors are deployed on bare metal largely as part of an effort to reduce the total cost of managing client devices.

But there is another approach to desktop virtualization, known as Type 0, that doesn't require any hypervisors at all. One of the primary proponents of this architecture is Zirtu, which developed a virtual environment that utilizes, outside of storage, only client-side processing to run. According to Zirtu Vice President Jake Lifshits, a Type 0 approach provides endpoints that are stateless. The entire client-side workspace provisioning is centralized, but the workspace is decoupled across a set of multiple Virtual DNA Containers of different types. For example, a different container is used for the operating system, for corporate applications, for user-installed applications and for user personalization.

By executing directly on real hardware and eliminating the intermediate virtual hardware layer, Lifshits says there's no compromise when it comes to application performance or in terms of any offline usage of the system. A user's workspace can be securely delivered to any machine regardless of who owns it, while all administration remains integrated with existing domain structures and Microsoft Active Directory.

Obviously, IT organizations of all sizes are looking for less labor-intensive ways to manage the desktop without compromising the end-user experience, especially in the context of mobile computing. Type 1 and 2 hypervisors, the latter of which is used primarily in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment, don't completely pass that test. As a result, more than a few IT organizations are going to be open to an alternative approach.


Of course, many IT organizations will wind up deploying a mix of approaches to desktop virtualization depending on the use case, all of which are a step forward in terms of reducing the cost of managing the desktop via centralized management.