The Rise of Intelligent Desktop Virtualization

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Desktop Virtualization and the Death of the PC

It may simply be a question of "when," not "if," a range of mobile computing devices displaces the PC.

When it comes to desktop virtualization, the conversation today tends to be dominated by virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). But Intel has quietly been tossing around a desktop virtualization acronym of late: intelligent desktop virtualization (IDV).

The difference between VDI and 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 on desktop PCs 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, usually as part of an effort to allow, for example, and end user to run two operating systems on the same machine.

The primary benefit of a Type 1 hypervisor is that it makes the PC environment a lot easier to manage, which is one of the reasons that Intel is starting to throw more of its weight behind IDV. One of Intel's IDV partners is Virtual Computer, which makes an NxTop desktop management environment that is optimized for a Type 1 hypervisor environment. According to Virtual Desktop CEO Dan McCall, the IDV approach is not only a whole lot less costly to deploy and manage than VDI, it also makes it easier for the IT organization to return systems in a couple of minutes to their gold image state in the event of a malware attack or some other disaster. In contrast, McCall says VDI requires massive investments in additional storage capacity and network bandwidth, while at the same time not scaling nearly as well as IDV.

What all this means, says McCall, is that IT organizations can now gain more control over the desktop environment in a way that allows fewer administrators to effectively manage more clients than ever. The simple truth of the matter is that PC management issues have long plagued IT organizations. While there have always been tools to manage PCs, many of them have either been complex to use or overly expensive to deploy. With increased backing for IDV from Intel in 2012, it looks like the beginnings of a more systematic approach to reducing the cost of PC ownership might finally be under way.