Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#ALGORITHMS: "Client-Based Virtualization Gains Momentum"

Server-hosted virtualization is the poster-child of cloud computing where thin clients share a single IT-managed image. However, client-hosted virtualization is gaining momentum by claiming to offer IT cost savings, simpler centralized management, plus an enriched user experience comparable to stand-alone PCs.

In the beginning, IT had to spend weeks setting up, provisioning, upgrading and maintaining fleets of PCs on each of their user's desks. Server-hosted virtualization was a major step forward by cutting those times down to days or in some cases just hours, plus the thin-clients were cheaper than putting a PC on every user's desk. Today, however, the cost of PCs has dropped to nearly match that of thin clients, plus the resultant client-hosted virtualization infrastructure cuts IT set-up, provisioning, upgrading and maintenance times down to minutes instead of hours or days.

Client-hosted virtualization for 1,000 users requires only a single server (compared with 20 for server-hosted virtualization), as well as laptop support and quicker recovery, provisioning, patching, setup and upgrades.

Client-hosted VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) executes all application code on a desktop PC, which to the user appears to be a normal local operating system with all the advantages of high-speed execution for bandwidth-intensive applications like HD (high-definition) video, plus it works with all their local USB peripherals. In the background, however, their OS is really a copy of a centralized image managed by IT for up to 1,000 users from a single server, which can be located on-premises or in the cloud.

Server-hosted VDI, on the other hand, executes code on a server which can only handle about 50 users and must maintain not only the image, but must also house the user's data, requiring 20 to 25 times more IT hardware resources and up to 20 times the IT personnel over client-hosted VDI. In addition, local USB peripherals are difficult to install and using high-bandwidth media like HD video is nearly impossible to support for large numbers of users.

Intel, for one, is championing client-hosted virtualization as the wave of the future. Intel calls this intelligent desktop virtualization and is promising a new breed of multi-core processor to directly support client-hosted VDI. However, IT does not have to wait for these specialized processors to get in on this emerging trend, because many inexpensive desktop PCs today are already configurable for client-hosted virtualization from companies like Virtual Computer, RES Software, Wanova, MokaFive and Scense.

For example, Virtual Computer has been delivering its NxTop desktop-virtualization platform as an alternative to server-hosted VDI for 18 months. Recently, sales have skyrocketed fivefold, prompting Virtual Computer to announce this month a new Global Partner Program to keep up with demand.

"Client-hosting greatly reduces the cost of virtualization; plus, it eliminates the complexity and many of the limitations inherent in server-hosted VDI," said John Glendenning, senior vice president of worldwide sales and business development for Virtual Computer. "And with the new Global Partner Program, we have created a channel for IT that should greatly simplify implementing client-hosted virtualization for businesses of nearly any size."
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