Hoping to accelerate the spread of desktop-flavored virtualization, VMware has formed an alliance of 25 hardware, software and services providers pledging to deliver products that solve a number of desktop-management problems.
Desktop systems are the most underutilized and difficult IT asset to manage, particularly those owned by remote workers in the United States and overseas, VMware officials contend. The ongoing geographic expansion of enterprise workforces has given rise to new management problems involving security and privacy that go beyond the capabilities of any one vendor.
VMware officials say the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance can help address not just security and privacy but a wider range of IT problems associated with application management.
"Over the past two or three quarters, we've seen increased interest in using a virtual-desktop infrastructure to manage PCs," says Jerry Chen, director of enterprise desktops at VMWare. "In particular, we see it being driven not only by increased emphasis on security and data privacy but also by compliance regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, offshore development and call centers."
"Customers have two opposing forces at work," says David Crosbie, CTO of alliance member company Leostream Technology. "One, they want to send more work to third parties overseas. But another force is applying increased pressures to better control all of the company's data and intellectual property. We see this technology for the desktop as a good tool that enables both." Members of the new alliance are hopeful that VMware's technology can address those issues.
Some analysts see the merits in VMware's approach to positioning virtualization technologies for the desktop, but they wonder if all alliance participants will benefit equally.
"The alliance offers a different approach to achieving virtualized benefits, but really it's just systematizing something [that has been] going on for some time," says Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "Bringing partners to the table takes it a few steps further, but will everyone be able to eat and drink their fill? The answer is a qualified maybe."
VMware will work individually with each alliance member to jointly create, test and integrate desktop-hosting products based on VMware's virtual infrastructure and the business partner's hardware or software. Users will have the option of choosing a partner they feel offers them the best desktop solution.