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VMware Offers Desktop Virtualization As Next Step

Industry analyst firm IDC predicts desktop virtualization will be a fresh wave of implementing virtualization technology in the enterprise, amounting to a $2 billion market by 2011.

VMware made the second version of its virtual desktop management software available this week to customers who want to extend their virtualized environments beyond servers in the data center.

Industry analyst firm IDC predicts desktop virtualization will be a fresh wave of implementing virtualization technology in the enterprise, amounting to a $2 billion market by 2011, but so far there's been more talk about desktop virtualization than action. While many IT managers can see potential benefits, problems of managing user IDs and supplying thousands of virtual machines and concurrent connections beset poorly planned initial steps.

VMware is looking to make desktop virtualization, through the second version of its Virtual Desktop Manager, an extension of what its existing virtualization management framework, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, which in turn is linked to its general framework, Virtual Infrastructure 3.

VMware itself wanted to insure its desktop virtualization features were robust and secure before issuing the product, said Jerry Chen, senior director of enterprise desktops. Virtual Desktop Manager in its 1.0 version was not available for customers to install on their own. It was only available through VMware consulting services as VMware gained experience in the desktop market, said Chen in an interview.

"The key is, 'don't try to get too complex,'" said senior systems engineer Tony Arnett, an early adopter of Virtual Desktop Manager 2. He's virtualizing 10 desktops at a time at the Pentair Water Pool and Spa division of Pentair. He tested 10 desktops running on a single host with IT staffers before rolling out a test to 10 call center staffers. When he finishes testing with one group, he tears down their virtual machines and builds another 10 for a new group.

Early feedback indicates the virtual desktops are easier to manage and maintain with potential cost savings, but Arnett said the managers of the Pentair unit will have to review his results and determine how they wish to approach end users. For the testing, Arnett replaces a desktop machine with a Wyse thin client, a diskless Wyse V10L. But it's not been decided to replace all PCs with thin clients, he noted.

According to feedback, the virtualized Windows desktops and applications run the same, or possibly a little slower, in the virtualized environment.

VMware announced Virtual Desktop Manager 2 on Sept. 10; it became generally available yesterday.

The software is priced at $150 per concurrent user. It can be purchased in a $1,500 starter edition for 10 users or in a $15,000 package for 100 users.

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