IBM is out of the PC business, but it still has its eyes on workers' desktops. Last week, IBM explained its forthcoming Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure platform, which blends technologies and capabilities from the PC blade and blade-server markets. IBM promises that companies will be able to deliver up to 15 desktop environments from one server blade.
This marks IBM's first foray into the client market since it sold its PC business to Lenovo Group Ltd. in May. IBM promises the technology by March of next year. The platform uses virtualization software from VMware Inc. to create the separate client environments and Citrix Systems Inc.'s Citrix Presentation Server to let them run Windows XP.
Most PC blade implementations use one blade per client. This will let IT departments hit blade-utilization rates of up to 80%, predicts Tim Dougherty, director of BladeCenter strategies for IBM. Businesses also may use it so a blade server can deliver desktop apps during daytime shifts, then move it to more typical server applications overnight.
IBM and Hewlett-Packard control about 75% of the fast-growing blade-server market. HP doesn't offer PC-blade virtualization. But given HP's recent acquisition of RLX Technologies Inc., which offers software to manage blade servers, Pund-IT analyst Charles King says it wouldn't be surprising to see HP offer a rival to IBM's virtual PC blade.