Virtualization Technology News and Information
Next Frontier For VMware: Virtualized Desktops

Quoting Information Week

Worried about a temporary help worker walking off with critical enterprise data? Assign that worker a virtual desktop instead of a regular desktop. Wrap the virtual desktop with IT policies that prohibit downloading the data to a portable memory device, like a USB hard drive or memory stick, if one is plugged into the physical machine.

That's one example of what the future might look like if IT departments adopted virtual machines for the desktop as well as data center servers.

Such a desktop would consist of an operating system, desktop applications, and data all formatted as digital files and packaged with virtual machine software. VMware offered such software in beta form this week as VMware ACE 2 Enterprise Edition. IT managers can use ACE 2 to create a standard desktop environment, wrap it in IT security and management policies, and download it to a PC or laptop.

Start-ups, such as Parallels, Thinstall, and Ringcube Technologies have been toying with the possibilties in the virtualized desktop market for the last year or more. Now VMware, the 800-pound market leader in virtualization, has entered the ring.

"You can tell the virtual desktop what IP addresses it can or cannot access," notes Jerry Chen, director of VMware's enterprise desktop platform. "You can instruct it, you can't plug USBs into this virtual machine."

A previous version of ACE has been tested in private beta. Now VMware is subjecting its approach to the virtual desktop in a public posting for free download at It is expected to be commercially available in the second quarter. No pricing is available at this time.

Virtual desktops might offer several advantages over the physically configured type that is currently prevalent. IT managers can create isolated and secure environments on the desktop, if they choose to.

VMware also has an ACE Management Server for managing hundreds or thousands of virtualized desktops at a time, checking expiration dates on their software, network, and device configurations, and providing centralized policies on security and user access. Individual users who need an application that runs on an older version of the operating system could be provisioned separately, without an IT administrator needing to visit their machines. Generating standard sets of desktops is easier when the IT administrator can concentrate on virtual machines and not worry about exactly what hardware they will run on, said Chen.

VMware's parent company EMC recently authorized a 10% IPO as a way to raise more capital for VMware's expansion into the virtualization market.

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Published Friday, March 09, 2007 4:11 PM by David Marshall
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