Archive for the ‘Desktops’ Category

Coming soon: client hypervisors

February 8, 2010

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…

Next Generation Desktops?

December 8, 2009

It seems me that there is a bit of a ‘perfect storm’ around desktops at the minute:

  • The ‘credit crunch’ means that everyone is looking at reducing costs, and desktops are always under the spotlight.
  • The ‘credit crunch’ has also meant that many people have put off upgrading devices for some time
  • Whilst VDI might be the latest industry buzzword, it has at least reignited conversations around server-based computing
  • And of course there’s a lot of fuss around Windows 7 (hey, we’re halfway through rolling it out internally at Softcat!

The upshot of all this is that there are a lot of IT departments who want to, or need to, upgrade their desktop estates – but who don’t want to do it the same way again!

Perhaps this could best be referred to as delivering ‘desktops as a service’ – or provisioning users rather than physical devices. The basic premise is managing desktops through separation of the hardware, operating system, applications, profile and data. Today the options for ‘doing desktops differently’ are primarily based on some form of desktop virtualisation (I’m not talking about pure hosted virtual desktops, rather encouraging people to look again at the desktop and application delivery technologies available) or through the use of a client management tool such as AltirisFrontrange, SCCM or KACE. I’m also following with interest the developments around client hypervisors (Brian Madden writes intelligently about this approach here) – that could be the best of both worlds and a simple approach to deploying desktops in a very straightforward manner.

How are you going to be ‘doing desktops differently’ through 2010, Windows 7 and beyond?

Update (19/3/2010) we are running an event on exactly this subject. Registration will be available shortly here.