But IT's download dilemma may not last much longer. Application virtualization is making software downloading largely unnecessary.
"Imagine a world where IT administrators, they run applications but they never install them," mused Coby Gurr, product line manager for LANDesk Software.
Enterprise software management vendor LANDesk Software on Wednesday aims to help realize that vision by announcing that it has integrated its LANDesk Application Virtualization with its LANDesk Management Suite.
LANDesk Application Virtualization isolates virtual applications so they never install registry keys, device drivers, or anything that changes the underlying operating system. It lets IT administrators distribute software remotely, or stream it, without the need to test every new application for conflicts.
Virtualization lets you do what otherwise couldn't be done, like load Internet Explorer 6 and 7 on the same machine. "It's theoretically impossible to have IE 6 and IE 7 on same machine," said Gurr. "With virtualization it can be done."
It also provides a way to let employees use, say, the Firefox browser, even if the company is a Microsoft shop.
Perhaps more to the point, it pays to do it, Gurr argues. "If I can just isolate everything and not worry about it anymore, I can reduce the cost and improve the user experience," he said.
LANDesk Application Virtualization relies on a clientless architecture. This allows virtualized applications to be run over a network or from a USB drive, making it possible for business travelers, for example, to leave their notebook computers at home and carry their desktop environment on a thumb drive for use with any compatible host PC at their destination.