Why bother with desktop virtualization?

Why bother with desktop virtualization?

Summary: The proponents of making proper use of desktop virtualization technology including access virtualization, application virtualization and VDI (the combination of access virtualization and processing virtualization) do their best to make it sound like the best things since pockets. Aren't today's laptops, desktops and handheld devices good enough to get the job done?

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The proponents of making proper use of desktop virtualization technology including access virtualization, application virtualization and VDI (the combination of access virtualization and processing virtualization) do their best to make it sound like the best things since pockets. Aren't today's laptops, desktops and handheld devices good enough to get the job done? Some suppliers, after all, will promise the sun and the stars, but in the end only provide the moon.

Some of the benefits they claim include:

  • Security - it is much harder for unauthorized individuals to access applications and data when the device in front of them is just an access mechanism rather than actually hosting workloads. The same is said of applications that are streamed or copied down to the local machine on as as-needed basis.
  • Manageability - individuals no longer have to be system operators or system administrators. Access points can be managed from afar by people who actually like doing it.
  • Performance - applications may actually perform better when working in a virtualized environment for a number of reasons. All of the components of the application are encapsulated and load rapidly. Network-based storage may have better caching and, thus, appear to perform better.
  • Compliance - in some markets, regulations require organizations to make sure that data does not remain available on a device after the application processing it completes. If the data was never hosted on the local device, there is little reason to fear that it will suddenly appear after an application terminates. Other regulations require that organizations be able to provide information on who accessed and updated data. This, too, is easier when it is centrally located.
  • Agility - configurating and re-configuring access devices is much easier when an installation is merely selecting which golden images are going to be made available to a worker based upon that worker's role, location and the like.
  • Consolidaiton - some virtualization technology makes it possible for one physical machine to support the virtual desktops of many individuals. Several blade PC suppliers have presented customer profiles in which 10-15 workers were supported by a single blade computer.

Are there are other reasons these suppliers have used to justify the acquisition of one or more of these technologies? Does your organization have any plans to use this technology?

Topics: CXO, Cloud, Hardware, Storage, Virtualization

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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8 comments
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  • Portability

    No matter where you are, there you are.

    Sit down at a workstation and light up your working environment. No need to drag the hardware with you, which ranges from annoying to hazardous, what with laptops being popular targets for confiscation at airports. Especially since a lot of them don't really drive large displays very well and, frankly, they have performance issues under sustained load.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • not if...

      you are in the middle of WY or LA in trying to enter facility information and the nearest human is 60 miles away and no communications are available (and satalite is expensive). Laptop needed, then.
      itbj
      • Yup

        Works both ways. However, I rarely have any need to dink with a chip design when out of contact with the network.

        "Desktop virtualization" is a fancy new term for a modest update on what X11 graphics have been doing since the 80s.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • X-Windows = access virtualization

          It's clear that X-Windows is an early demonstration of the concept of access virtualization. It's been available on many operating environments (UNIX, Linux, VMS, Windows, Mac OS, etc.) for years.

          This approach, of course, should be considered part of desktop virtualization like the analogs on Windows (Microsoft's RDP and Citrix's ICA).

          Dan K
          dkusnetzky
  • Agility - configurating and re-configuring?

    Are you kidding us? Do you bloggers ever use a spell check these days? There is no such word as configurating. Is it possible for ZDNet to hire a couple of editors?

    By the way, are you for or against the use of virtualization? If so, on what platform and so forth?

    Blog entries like this are mostly a waste of our reading time. Please!
    zetacon4@...
    • English language and logical thinking

      Stop being so fussy! The author is not a native English speaker, judging by his name and by the time of the day he posted the blog. English is an illogic language and some people have a hard time getting used to that, especially IT people who think logically. It makes perfect sense that the verb derived from configuration is configurating (like reacting is to reaction) but English language is not very famous by making sense.

      You say it?s a waste of time for you to read this but you think it?s not a waste of time to raise ridicolous questions like spelling in a tech article.

      If you are so smart why don?t you write an article in Russian, or whatever the author?s native language is?
      Steven A.
  • RE: Why bother with desktop virtualization?

    The answer is to allow a brain-damaged OS to run Windows so something productive can get done or you want to play games or use modern software. Some people are prepared to pay for their ideology.
    tonymcs@...
  • License Management

    For many people I talk with, the largest benefit is having a new way of administering the allocation of some applications in response to unpredictable demand from a changing set of users.
    cbartram