Desktop Virtualization Across the Enterprise

The virtualization of operating systems began many years ago as a means to test applications across multiple platforms without having to build dedicated machines or even leave the developers desktop. Now virtualization has evolved into a necessity to eliminate server and datacenter sprawl and make more efficient use of computing resources. Gone are the days where a new box was necessary for every OS and once in production it only used 20% of resources for the most part. Now the big iron can be loaded with ram, quad processors, and superfast SAS drives (or data offloaded to storage appliances) and host all of your platforms via virtual machines. Deployment, administration, and disaster recovery options are streamlined and the economic impact of the resultant increase in efficiencies in man hours, space, and energy consumed speak volumes.

In an article on the Intel/IBM sponsored,'s Founder and Editor in Chief Dave Altavilla echoes this logic:

"The need for high availability platforms that scale on demand has paved the way for larger, application-aware and multiple OS capable architectures. In addition, server consolidation to provide efficiencies in power consumption, maintenance and other overhead costs, has become critical."

It has long been established that the virtualization of server and data center infrastructures is necessary on many fronts.
Now we approach a new challenge in the form of the virtualization of desktops. We as IT Professionals have no issue with the adoption of new technology but when it trickles down to the end user the process becomes challenging not just on a technological front but in dealing with ease of usability and willingness of adoption.

The average MS Windows desktop loaded with office is easy to virtualize but when you get to specialized applications and those that are graphically intensive such as CAD or 3D applications there needs to be a means to offload the visual rendering to the users monitors in an accelerated manner that meets or exceeds the dedicated machine and gpu currently used. Along with this hurdle you also must have the vendors of such software's cooperation in creating a solution to detect the ever-present hardware dongle across a virtual session.

The competition in the desktop arena comes in the form of Windows Terminal Services and various Citrix offerings but they have yet to over come the same issues being met by virtualization products.

All said though, the adoption rate of virtualization and the many offerings being rushed to market along with the IT industry's willingness to embrace this technology indicates that virtualization will indeed be coming to a desktop near you, very soon.