Symantec Steps Into Streaming

Software vendor ups the ante around desktop virtualization, adds Vista support

June 9, 2007

3 Min Read
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Symantec fleshed out its application virtualization story this week, overhauling the desktop management technology it acquired when it bought Altiris earlier this year. (See Symantec Picks Up Altiris.)

Specifically, Symantec has added support for Vista and an application management feature called "streaming" to the Altiris Software Virtualization Solution (SVS). With users wrestling with the challenge of juggling licenses from multiple software vendors within their infrastructure, streaming aims to quickly install and remove virtual applications from individual desktops.

The idea here is that users can avoid the costs of permanently installing multiple applications. "I think that streaming is going to become very important," says Andi Mann, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "This works out cheaper than permanently installing software on hundreds of desktops."

Symantec's streaming feature, which is built on technology from AppSteam, works by installing an agent on desktop devices, and is responsible for running an application only when it is requested by an end user. When the end user closes Microsoft Office, for example, the agent quickly removes the application from the device, although the relevant icon remains available on the desktop.

Users have already cited lengthy deployment cycles and hefty levels of maintenance as major hurdles in the path of their virtualization projects, despite the apparent popularity of the technology. (See Users Talk Virtual Troubles.) Symantec is also touting the technology as a way for users to "multi-task" their existing PCs. "This opens up a lot of flexibility for environments where people move around a lot between machines," explains Scott Jones, Symantec's product manager for Altiris software, using the example of a busy hospital environment. "In the course of a given day, physicians, lab technicians, or financial counselors could be accessing applications on that machine."

Desktop virtualization is gaining momentum at the moment, buoyed largely by user demand for easy-to-install thin clients. (See Wanted: Virtual Desktop Services.) A number of vendors are now getting in on this act, including VMware, IBM Global Services, Citrix, and startup XDS. (See XDS Adds Desktop Virtualization.)

As noted in a recent report from Byte and Switch Insider, interest is growing in the security, cost efficiencies, and management control possible with desktop virtualization. This is particularly true for products that allow a single PC to support multiple virtual machines and OSes, as supported by VMware Workstation or Parallels. (See VMware Unveils Workstation 6 and Insider Eyes Virtual Desktops.)

Like Symantec, Microsoft has a similar offering called SoftGrid, built on technology from the vendor's Softricity acquisition, which combines both application virtualization and streaming capabilities. (See Microsoft Makes Virtualization Play and Provision, Softricity Team.)

Symantec also announced support for Microsoft's recently announced Vista operating system within the latest version of SVS, as well as support for both laptop and desktop devices. Despite a flurry of activity from vendors in this space, EMA's Mann warns that advanced desktop virtualization is not a good fit for all organizations. "There are some situations where streaming won't be practical, for example, in organizations with low bandwidth connections."

SVS with support for Vista and streaming is available now, priced at $55 per desktop.

James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)


  • Enterprise Management Associates

  • IBM Global Services

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XDS Inc.

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