"Every x86 hardware vendor has joined the virtualized choir," notes Charles King, analyst at Pund-IT Inc. market researcher. Early implementors will be companies that have remote offices but no IT staff in those locations. Instead of journeying to the office and setting up hardware, IT staffers will be able to deliver virtual machine desktops by remote hookup and manage them from a central server, says Jerry Chen, VMware director of enterprise desktops. "It looks and acts like your own PC," but it's a virtual machine running on a server, he says.
The approach eases many maintenance issues, such as matching the right version of Windows to the right version of Office, or Linux to Open Desktop. Fewer software patches and upgrades are required as older copies of applications are kept running in centralized virtual machines, he says.
The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance includes vendors such as Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, NEC, Sun, and Wyse Technology on the hardware side. Software suppliers include virtual machine systems management software supplier Altiris, security software supplier Check Point Software Technologies, application virtualizer Softricity and Citrix Systems, a supplier of central server desktop environments, and 14 others.
VMware is the market leader when it comes to virtualized servers and now its customers are asking it to take the lead on the client side of the equation, says Chen.