In a rapid fire presentation, the Ncomputing folks provided a very interesting view into what they've been doing to help organizations take advantage of the unused power in today's desktop systems to support many workloads. As I mentioned in the post Ncomputing: Sharing the power of a single computer, this is not a new idea. Although not a new idea, Ncomputing has implemented it in a very clever, very efficient way.
Parallels has been offering a similar approach for server consolidation using operating system virtualization and partitioning for years. The suppliers of UNIX for midrange systems have also supported this approach for a very long time. They use terms such as IBM's LPARS, HP's hardware and operating system partitions, or Sun's Solaris Containers and Zones. What's interesting about Ncomputing's products is that the operating system being partitioned is Microsoft's Windows.
Ncomputing allows organizations to use a single desktop PC like a minicomputer from the 1970s and 1980s. That does this mean, a significant reduction in hardware cost, software administration, power consumption and head production. Since today's microprocessors are far more powerful than most people ever use, sharing this power among multiple users makes a great deal of sense.
ClearCube, HP, IBM, Wyse and others have looked at the same problem and come up with a different approach than the one Ncomputing has implemented. Rather than partitioning a single operating system to support multiple workloads, these other suppliers have gone down the path of sharing a single PC blade computing among multiple users using virtual machine software and a connection broker to allow users to attach to systems that could support their workloads. ClearCube, for example, has presented customer scenarios in which ClearCube customers have deployed a single PC Blade to support the workloads of 10, 15 or even 20 people.
If an organization is well underway to implement a server consolidation strategy, it might be wise to consider the implementation of a desktop consolidation strategy as well. I'd suggest that organizations consider the approaches offered by Ncomputing and its competitors before finalizing plans.