Virtualization 101, From Data Center To Desktop

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Virtualization Trends

These days, the hot topic is "desktop virtualization". What are the realized benefits and are we actually ready for company-wide adoption? There are many variables when you enumerate your workforce's applications by department. Accounting, marketing, sales, personnel, engineering, and others all need applications specific to the tasks they perform. Of course there will always be the requisite email, calendaring, word processing and other office applications that are required across the enterprise.  Not to be discounted is the impact it will have on your end users and whether it is a more viable option than other products that are prevalent in this sector such as Microsoft's Terminal Services and the various Citrix offerings.


The decision to use one platform over the other will boil down to many factors including resource usage, performance, bandwidth needs, features, and cost per instance or licensing.  A big hurdle is the inability, at this point, to provide the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) power needed for CAD and 3D applications through a virtual session. Presently virtualization software is designed to give virtual machines a virtual GPU that supports VGA and basic high resolution 2D graphics. Developments are being made by VMware to cross this graphics boundary using the "SVGA3D" protocol, an adaptation of the Direct3D API that provides a low level interface to video card 3D functions and hardware acceleration, which in turn enable the rendering of complex or 3D images to the monitor.


Without question, Virtualization is already trickling down to devices that you would have never imagined could need or use this technology. Case in point is VMware's Mobile Virtualization Platform which will allows faster time to market of new phones by shortening the development process required to install mobile applications on new models. By removing the hardware layers' dependence on specific software you will be able to select your platform of choice or easily switch between multiple virtual machines perhaps running Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Blackberry OS all on the same phone to communicate with different servers, as required by varying company requirements. VMware hopes to have this technology in the mobile marketplace by late 2009 or early 2010.

Given the popularity of Virtualization and the current rate of adoption on all fronts, from the largest of enterprises to small businesses, rest assured this technology will be moving into even more areas while being improved upon in the sectors it now dominates. If you take a peek at technical job sites you will see the demand for virtualization professionals is high which would seem to indicate its proliferation is bound to increase. Information Technology as we know it is indeed heavily embracing the virtual model. 

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