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Desktops In Play?

Can the popularity of server virtualization propel desktop virtualization into the fore?
Server Virtualization eases agging problems in the data center. Can its popularity propel desktop virtualization into the fore as well? And if so, will endpoint security be helped or hindered?

As we discuss in "Virtualization: Not Just for Servers Anymore,", vendors are hoping their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI, offerings can ride the server consolidation wave right into the mainstream. They say VDI can make most enterprise desktop infrastructures leaner, more secure, and less expensive to deploy and manage. VMware, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM have desktop virtualization plays, as does Citrix Systems, especially since it announced plans to purchase Xen- Source. Microsoft, surprisingly, has no skin in this game, unless it changes course on Longhorn's virtualization capabilities.

Under the covers, VDI isn't much different from server virtualization. Key benefits lie in management techniques and features, such as resource pools and connection brokers. VDI replicates a user's desktop experience, encapsulating resources for easier management and increased security. For example, sensitive applications or data could be deployed on a need-to-know basis to select users, and virtualized desktops are by default isolated, so the risk of an attacker gaining access is lessened. The standardization VDI imposes also means easier patching.

All good news for IT; however, we just don't see VDI being an easy sell in most organizations. To make it work, you'll need a solid justification, a controlled deployment methodology, and a realistic picture of benefits vs. limitations so you can educate users.

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