Judges: Andrew Conry-Murray (InformationWeek), Steven Hill (Interop)
In a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), individual PCs and laptops are replaced by virtual desktops that are streamed to the users from a set of servers in a data center. Groups of identical desktop images, called "pools," are generated from a single master image or a small set of master images and deployed to users. IT organizations adopt VDI for a variety of reasons, including reducing the management burden (having to maintain only a small number of images, rather than any number of OS configurations and versions found among traditional PCs.)
While server virtualization now dominates the data center, VDI has yet to make as large an impact, since its return on investment isn't nearly as clear. That said, virtual desktops are making their way into more IT operations: 11% of organizations have an extensive VDI deployment, while another 33% have limited use of VDI, according to InformationWeek's 2011 Virtualization Management Survey. Beyond the economics, another reason VDI hasn't swept away traditional desktops is availability--if a VDI server fails, all the desktops in that pool go down, too.
Startup V3 Systems aims to tackle that problem with its V3 Optimized Desktop Allocation. V3 works with VMware's View to provide virtual desktops to users via V3's purpose-built hardware appliances. The V3 Optimized Desktop Allocation (ODA) product is designed to identify when an appliance fails and move any affected virtual desktops to another appliance. When the V3 ODA detects the appliance failure, it alerts an administrator, who can then create a new pool or opt to connect to a standby pool. It then communicates with VMware View to create the pool and provision the users' desktop environments, with the ultimate goal being to minimize end user disruption.
One big limitation: ODA works only with V3 appliances in a VMware environment. The product was announced at Interop and is available immediately. --Andrew Conry-Murray