In the past week, I've spoken with representatives of three different suppliers of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Each is offering or planning to offer technology which makes it possible for desktop systems or individual workloads to be encapsulated, and then accessed by access virtualization. The encapsulated system or workload images can execute on the local desktop system, a nearby work group server, a server in the business unit's datacenter or on a server back in the enterprise datacenter.
The goal of this exercise is to get back to the simplicity of having workloads either executed in a single location or easily managed as if they were centralized. Other goals are to increase levels of manageability, security and efficiency while also reducing the overall cost of systems, software, storage and networking equipment.
The more I thought about what they had to say, the more I remember the simplicity of working with a timesharing system, such as those offered by DEC, DG, HP, IBM or Pr1me. Often hundreds of staff could be easily supported by one of these systems. Software updates to the operating systems or the applications could be installed without forcing a member of the IT staff member to visit the office of every employee to change something on their system.
While I was a software engineer for one company, a typical customer installation was one server that supported application access for up to 150 people. Think how straightforward it was to install software, update software and backup data.
After hearing about the elaborate, complex ways suppliers are going about the business of delivering applications and data to people today, is it wrong of me too long for the good ol' days of timesharing?