Virtualization Technology News and Information
Virtual Computer: 2012 The Year When - VDI Flips to IDV and the PC Becomes Cool Again


What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2012? Find out in this series exclusive.

2012 The Year When - VDI Flips to IDV and the PC Becomes Cool Again

Contributed Article by Dan McCall, President and CEO, Virtual Computer

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or VDI has certainly gotten a lot of publicity over the past year.  With the marketing might of VMware and Citrix behind it, we would have been a bit shocked if it hadn't gotten a lot of buzz.   VDI has also been riding the wave of tablets and a perception in the media that the PC-era is over.  The problem is that while VDI offers some exciting and powerful benefits, such as centralizing management and reduced support issues, it also brings along with it some troublesome baggage.

Many companies have found server-hosted VDI to be difficult and expensive to deploy - and after all of that investment, the end user experience is not as good as what PCs have been already been delivering for years.  Challenges associated with server-hosted VDI include high infrastructure costs, performance issues, limited mobility, and it's very complex to build and deploy. The result is that many companies have delayed their implementations, waiting for the industry solve those problems.  Unfortunately, one of the bigger challenges for desktop virtualization as a whole is that the market often equates VDI with desktop virtualization.  With so much noise and hype around VDI, it's easy to see why there's so much confusion.

However, VDI does not equal desktop virtualization.  In fact, a different approach to desktop virtualization maintains the centralized management benefits but uses local execution to improve performance and drive down costs.  While this approach has been in the market for a few years, it's now getting the attention of the big industry players such as Lenovo and Intel.  In fact, Intel has gone as far as to create a new category to describe this method:  Intelligent Desktop Virtualization or IDV.

IDV offers a computing model where both IT and end users win.  IDV solutions provide IT the ability to control and secure desktop images and devices while ensuring users enjoy high-performance, mobility, and flexibility.  By combining centralized management with local execution, IDV enables businesses to reap the advantages of desktop virtualization without extensive capital outlay, without compromising user experience, and without completely re-working desktop management practices.

Because IDV runs locally, there is no dependency on the datacenter for end users to do their work - in fact, users can be fully productive online or off.  This ability to run without ties to the data center offers high reliability and eliminates any need for a large-scale business continuity environment to provide desktop services in the wake of server, disk or network failures.

As IDV gains momentum in 2012, we will see the self-interested vendors describing the Post-PC era will find it harder and harder to justify their rhetoric as every major analyst firm publishes reports of near double-digit growth in the PC market.  There will also be changes in the market that revitalize the PC in the eyes of the media - we won't be seeing just the same old PCs we've seen in the past.  The Ultrabook, defined by a specification published by Intel for ultraportable laptops, is challenging both the MacBook Air and iPad on both form-factor and cool-factor.  With the awareness of IDV on the rise, the PC vendors will be building VDI-killers for the desktop as well. These will be small form factor PCs with green power management and a solid line up of CPU, memory, and disk all for the price of a mid-range thin client. Bundled with IDV software, these will cement the fact that that VDI and thin clients cannot compete with IDV and PCs.

One of the things that will fuel the growth of IDV is the accelerating adoption of Type-1 client hypervisors.  Type-1 hypervisors have driven the growth of server virtualization to the point where when companies roll out new servers, the default deployment model is using a Type-1 hypervisor. This is because the virtualization provides tremendous manageability benefits, and the Type-1 hypervisor provides the most powerful performance and security capabilities.  A true Type-1 hypervisor has no operating system running between the hypervisor and the hardware, allowing it to directly interface with the hardware to maximize performance.  Type-2 hypervisors, on the other hand, run on top of an operating system, which consumes resources and introduces security challenges.  Type-1 hypervisors are so superior to Type-2 that in the mature world of server virtualization there are is no Type-2 option.

Building a Type-1 hypervisor for the client is a challenging task because the hypervisor must be able to support a wide range of client devices, buttons on laptops, web cameras, and other hardware that is non-existent in the world of server virtualization.  However, the end result is worth it because the hypervisor delivers the highest level of performance and security possible while minimizing the complexity of the deployment. Unlike VDI, where the customer gets stuck dealing with the complexity of making it all work, in the Type-1 IDV model, the product vendor takes on the hard work resulting in a solution that greatly simplifies implementation and operation.

The recognition that the Type-1 client hypervisor is very difficult to develop has led some solution providers to offer something that appears to be a "bare metal" or Type-1 hypervisor, but in reality falls quite short.  These solutions offer an integrated installer that installs a Linux on a bare metal workstation and installs a Type-2 hypervisor (such as VMware player) on top of Linux as a part of the same installation cycle. This installer creates the misperception that a Type-1 hypervisor is being deployed, and some are even marketed as a Type-1.  However, the hypervisor in this type of solution is still a Type-2 hypervisor and is totally reliant on the underlying Linux operating system.

What makes a true Type-1 hypervisor is that it is in complete control of all of the hardware resources on the server or desktop computer, that it allocates all of the hardware (CPU, memory and disk) to the virtual machines running on it, and that it is not reliant on another underlying operating system below it to function.   These are the characteristics that give Type-1 hypervisor's their performance and security advantages. Organizations looking to implement IDV solutions should probe to make sure they are getting the real thing.

2012 won't be the "Year of IDV" quite yet, it will take another year for the market to mature. But it will be the year we start reading about successful desktop virtualization deployments rather than failed deployments using VDI.


About the Author

Dan McCall is the President and CEO of Virtual Computer, which was recently ranked one of the top four desktop virtualization providers along with Microsft, Citrix, and VMware, by an independent third party survey.

Published Tuesday, December 20, 2011 6:15 AM by David Marshall
Virtual Computer: 2012 The Year When – VDI Flips to IDV and the … | To Share - (Author's Link) - December 20, 2011 2:26 PM
rbchristiansen - (Author's Link) - December 23, 2011 11:47 AM

Dan presents a very interesting observation of VDI and an alternative approach with IDV.  However, there are a few companies that are leap frogging over the private deployment of VDI and opting for a subscription based service of VDI.  These companies handle all of the CapEx and operational issues Dan described while providing a better user experience overall than an in-house service.  Moreover, the services are typically 35% or greater TCO benefit over traditional PC deployments.

We at Horizon Private Cloud offer a Total Desktop Virtualization service on a monthly subscription without worry of the VDI pitfalls.  There are other companies such as nGenX, OnTheNetOffice, and RackSpace who are also providing these services from the cloud.  

Robert Christiansen

President and CTO of Horizon Private Cloud. - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 4, 2012 7:06 AM

I'd like to personally welcome each and every one of you to the start of 2012! As we begin what will certainly prove to be a fantastic new year, I wanted to make sure to thank all of the loyal member's and readers of Once again, with the help

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