Coming soon: client hypervisors

I’ve usually got a technology are or two to bang on about as my ‘next big thing’. My current obsession is the advent, theoretically within the next six months, of ‘client hypervisors’. As I mentioned in my earlier post about ‘Next Generation Desktops’, we’re seeing a lot of interest from people looking to change the way they ‘do’ desktops, and it seems to me that client hypervisors will be in interesting option.

The basic premise is a bare-metal hypervisor that is installed on the local desktop/ laptop, enabling one or more VMs to run locally on that hardware. Management tools should allow the IT department to deploy, secure, backup and maintain from a central point – at this stage it appears that the primary management platform will be through the major VDI platforms – this will effectively be ‘off-line VDI. Of course, the benefit of a bare-metal, Type-1 hypervisor over VMware Player or Microsoft Virtual PC is mainly in performance through direct access to the hardware.

I can see a few benefits of this model to IT departments:

Ease of management and deployment: truly driver-independent images (just needs to support the hypervisor); a backup copy of the VM, possibly synchronised at regular intervals, can be kept and re-issued in the event of hardware failure or VM corruption. If you’re going down the thin client route with VMware View or Citrix, you’ll be able to manage your offline desktops through the same tool.

Contractors: Assuming your contractors have appropriate hardware (hey, you could even demand this!), you can issue a secure, time-limited VM for them to use whilst doing work on your behalf.

Consumerisation of IT: My personal favourite – and something we are talking about internally at Softcat: give your users a laptop allowance, let them buy whatever suits them within certain parameters, and deliver them a secure, managed VM on which to do their work. IT no longer have any hardware to worry about, and hopefully you have a happier user community – who, perhaps, take more care of ‘their’ equipment,

I know that Intel, VMware and Citrix are hard at work on this stuff, and my understanding is that we should be seeing some commercial availability around the middle of 2010. Exciting stuff? I think it is…

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One Response to “Coming soon: client hypervisors”

  1. Doug Lane Says:

    Nice post. I have actually been working on client hypervisor technology for the last 2+ years at a startup called Virtual Computer in the Boston area. We have built a product called NxTop (short for Next Generation Desktop) that has a centralized management console and a bare-metal client hypervisor based on Xen open source technology. Just let me know if you would like a demo or an evaluation license at any point.

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