Don’t be fooled into thinking that VMware is the only company that can create a song and dance over virtualisation at the moment. Certainly, its European and US-based VMworld conferences seem to draw in the virtual cognoscenti from far and wide.
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But the cat appears to be somewhat loose now among the pigeons on the virtualisation conference bandwagon. Indeed, London town gets its own virtual shindig next January in the shape of the Virtualization Conference & Expo Europe. Yes, they used a Z for a UK event – oh well.
Organiser, editor and all round “let’s go and have a pint” man Jeremy Geelan, sent me an e-mail last week to let me know, “We have a strategic weapon: we're the Switzerland of virtualisation conferences.” Cue obvious jokes for fondue-roundtables, keynote yodels and sitting on the fence without really joining in.
Despite the rise of competing events such as this, the VMware engine room still appears to be active with news this Tuesday of its ThinApp application virtualisation product that the company said, “Lets customers run multiple versions of virtually any application on any Windows operating system without conflict. For example, users can run both Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 on the same operating system without disruption.”
Running with multiple versions of any Microsoft products in this way seems to suggest that you’d be asking for trouble – but I suppose it illustrates the point. According to VMware, this technology enables plug-and-play use of applications using an enterprise's existing systems and management tools. This means that the apps themselves are packaged into familiar formats such as .MSI or .EXE that can plug into existing infrastructures for license management, deployment and compliance.
In the face of recent reports by ZDNet.co.uk detailing the security challenges thrown up by the current drive to push towards virtual environments, analysts are still keen to put their name to the cause.
"Over the next two to five years over 50% of medium to large enterprises will adopt application virtualisation - to save costs, complexity and time to value throughout their desktop lifecycle. The ability of upcoming application virtualisation technology to work with multiple PC configuration tools is critical to reducing the overall complexity and realisation of true costs savings of packaging, testing and deployment of applications and desktops," said Ronni Collville, vice president, Gartner.
Essentially this is all about decoupling applications from the underlying OS and trying to make the environment they run in more flexible, while also maintaining control over desktops. VMware has said the “new” factors to look for here are its ‘Link’ and ‘Synch’ technologies that allow two virtualised applications to communicate with each other, while remote virtual applications can also be updated.
It’s all about virtualisation management then – and this is so much of the trend behind what’s being said by the conference organisers, the vendors, the analysts and probably the IT consultants (although I’m only hazarding a safe guess on the latter).
Vendors will tell you that it’s about defining your “technology roadmap” based on business needs rather than being constrained by application limitations – and this comes from the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know that virtualised applications do not suffer from limitations, change management challenges, interoperability or updateability issues.
On paper, it all sounds perfect. It’s still early days yet though surely?