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Suppliers Prep for Pandemic

Hurricane season might be grabbing the headlines, but firms are quietly preparing for the potential ravages of another major threat: an Avian Flu pandemic. The threat has prompted a flurry of activity from vendors such as VMware and IBM.

Speaking during a keynote at yesterday's EMC analyst day, VMware president Diane Greene said pandemic preparations are well underway, with many businesses already making plans for staff to work from home.

Many firms, she said, are using VMware products to secure their workers and centrally manage remote desktops and laptops. "An area where we have seen a lot of growth is in hosting desktop environments."

Toward this end, VMware last year unveiled the latest version of Workstation, its desktop virtualization software, which links up with the supplier's GSX and ESX Server products. (See VMware Intros Workstation.) More recently, VMWare has teamed up with thin computing specialist Wyse and set up an industry alliance in an attempt to build virtual desktop offerings with other hardware and software vendors. (See Wyse Collaborates With VMware, VMware Intros Alliance , and Kane County Consolidates.)

Since the first outbreak of Avian Flu, U.S. businesses have had to seriously rethink their disaster recovery strategies, with many staff members potentially forced to work from home, either through illness, transport problems, or the need to care for family members. According to the recently launched U.S. Pandemic Implementation Plan, up to 40 percent of a typical firm's workforce could be absent for two weeks or longer.

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