Virtual Computer Inc., the company redefining PC lifecycle management through virtualisation, today announced the availability of NxTop 1.1. Since it was first released for sale in April 2009, NxTop has differentiated itself with its ability to deploy a single, centrally managed Windows desktop environment to all users while maintaining user-specific personalization on each PC. Release 1.1 brings further innovation in this area by introducing System Workbench™. This new element of NxTop’s award-winning management system employs file system layering to isolate elements of the system to improve backup performance, retain end-user installed programs and settings and provide desktop IT managers with tools to manipulate the file system and registry. NxTop 1.1 is available immediately through the company’s NxTop Now! program which provides early adopters access to the product prior to general availability.
“Adoption of desktop virtualisation is hampered if the IT department cost savings come at the expense of end-user flexibility and convenience,” said Dan McCall, president and CEO, Virtual Computer. “Techniques such as virtual disk segmentation, user profile virtualisation, and file system layering are the preferred methods to overcoming this challenge. With the release of System Workbench, Virtual Computer leads the market in retaining end-user personalization in shared virtual images.”
Shared Image Management
Since its inception, NxTop has allowed IT administrators to build a single, Windows virtual image that can be shared across their entire organization. Updates to this shared image are performed centrally on the NxTop Center management console. At boot time, NxTop presents a Windows desktop to the end-user that is a composite of the latest shared system image, user-specific profiles and settings, and any non-permanent PC data such as caches and index files.
With System Workbench, IT administrators can now control which aspects of their “gold” operating system image may be customized and retained by the end-user. Through a policy-based interface with a simple XML-based authoring language, System Workbench provides powerful new capabilities, such as:
- A framework for whitelisting applications that can be installed into a shared image by an end-user into a persistent layer that survives a self-cleaning reboot or IT-generated system update.
- Granular, policy-based control to map files and directories onto different layers of the virtual file system. This allows, for example, the ability to exclude large but non-essential user files such as Outlook OST cache files and Windows index files from being included in NxTop’s automated user data backups. It also allows the system to retain customized user settings for poorly designed programs that store such information in system folders instead of the user’s profile area.
- Manipulation of programs, data files and settings for system features such as offline folders, file sharing, and antivirus databases to survive patching of shared operating system images.
In addition to System Workbench, the NxTop 1.1 release includes:
- NxTop Engine performance enhancements, including near-native network speed via paravirtualised networking.
- Simplified Microsoft Active Directory configuration and testing, easing integration into Microsoft environments.
- Enhanced user backup capabilities, including optimized data transfer, management of restore points, and compression of virtual hard disks to improve performance and disk utilization.
- Improved wireless support, including WPA/WPA2 Personal across all major wireless chip sets.
- Improved scalability and performance in NxTop Center, including background task processing and a 50 percent reduction in image preparation time.
“IDC anticipates that over the next 12 months, client-side hypervisor technology will become an increasingly hot topic. However, true adoption will only occur once management solutions begin using client hypervisors to enable new use cases for IT administrators and PC end-users,” said Michael Rose, industry analyst, enterprise virtualisation software, IDC. “NxTop was the first to deliver on this promise, and version 1.1 provides an ever broader set of capabilities aimed at reducing PC management costs.”