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IBM Blade/VMware Bundle Brings Virtualization To The Desktop

IBM is taking the wraps off a new desktop blade server with partners VMware and Citrix Systems that it promises will be more efficient than other blade offerings on the market.

Called the IBM Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure, the new system is being unveiled at VMworld 2005 in Las Vegas. The solution pairs an IBM xSeries or BladeCenter server with versions of VMWare's virtual infrastructure software and Citrix's Presentation Server pre-integrated.

Like other desktop blade servers, IBM's new system will host a desktop environment for client systems. But its use of virtualization to host the environment distinguishes it from competing products. Using that technology, one blade can support as many as 12 to 15 desktop environments, said Juhi Jotwani, director of BladeCenter and xSeries solutions at IBM. Other desktop blades servers map one blade to one client, she said.

To optimize the hosted desktop environment, Citrix made some modifications to the Presentation Server to support network printing, USB ports and dual monitors, according to Jotwani. "Users can leverage the full capabilities of a desktop machine," she said.

IBM is piloting the system with some clients through its IBM Global Services (IGS) division, Jotwani said. An IGS service offering is planned for the first quarter of 2006, and IBM expects to roll it out to select partners at that time, she said. Jotwani declined to provide pricing information for the system.

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