A virtual boost is sought for PCs

Jan 28, 2009 By Bridget Carey, McClatchy Newspapers

What if you didn't have a separate work computer to deal with anymore? Instead, you and your co-workers would use personal laptops to access work files and software - without having to download anything on your computer. It's part of the workplace future that Citrix Systems and Intel are working to make a reality.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Citrix this month announced a partnership with Intel to create a new type of virtualization product. The idea behind virtualization is that an employee can tap into a secure "virtual" version of a workplace desktop from any computer that has this technology. So, if you use a home computer, software and files are not actually saved on your personal hard drive - they are saved within the company's virtual work desktop.

Virtualization technology already exists, but the two companies say this new product - called a Xen hypervisor - would be unique because it would come already built into the PC or laptop, thereby improving the performance and adoption of virtualization. The technology will roll out by midyear, but Intel hasn't said yet which computer manufacturers will include the hypervisor in their machines.

"Although it's in the market right now, this type of solution hasn't taken off because of the security issues," said Ian Pratt, vice president of advanced products at Citrix. He explained in a conference call that by building this technology inside computers, it would eliminate security issues as well as improve the user's work experience. And it would save IT staff members from dealing with the hassle of managing every employee's desktop computer.

So, if you want a program like iTunes or Skype on your computer, there would be no one telling you it's against company policy to download it, since the work desktop environment is separated.

"This kind of solution greatly reduces the cost of enterprising in managing laptops and desktops and keeping those laptops up to date," Pratt said. "You know you're not going to have any hardware compatibility problems."

And ideally in time, it could mean people have the ability to tap into their work computers from any device with this technology _ even a smartphone.

"You'll be able to access your corporate desktop from whatever device is most convenient at the time, just like e-mail is today," said Raj Dhingra, group vice president and general manager of Citrix.

Citrix has started to do this with about 300 of its employees, and gave employees a $2,100 stipend to buy their own laptop with a hypervisor, Dhingra said.

He added that BYOC (bring your own computer) has been well received and that employees have been more productive.

Chris Wolf, senior analyst at Burton Group, said it's not a matter of whether this will take off, but when.

"I think it'll become more mainstream by 2012," Wolf said. "I think it's going to happen relatively quickly. It's flexibility that you never really had before. That's pretty exciting stuff now. My computer is always going to follow me wherever I go in the world."

___

(c) 2009, The Miami Herald.
Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at www.herald.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Jan 29, 2009
Ok for 1. Citrix never does anything good that cooperates at all with its host operating system.
2. Virtualization technology, while popular right now, will end up being the downfall of businesses. Virtualization relies on single host machines to host many virtual machines. Therefore, when this host has a problem, so do ALL virtual machines on the host, rendering them unuseable, and declining the work put forward by employees in a large scale.

It is simply just a BAD idea to try to virtualize everything. Only non-critical business systems (AKA, servers; namely, web servers and such that can be easily transferred to another system without loss of data).
To make this an even somewhat viable and reliable method of doing IT in business, you would need to back up all data on all virtual machines in the company, and guess what, storage costs more than a desktop or laptop does when talking in the quantities necessary to safeguard that data.

Not to mention, a TON of companies strip out all the manufacturer junk, as usually 3rd party products are used to perform the same functions.
This is simply a waste of time, money, and effort.
Mark my words, as soon as the first hardware failure occurs that has a huge impact (hw on host machine), or as soon as some hacker goes in and makes host machines unuseable, businesses will change their tune about this virtualization crap.

I'm also surprised they haven't been sued by Microsoft for nearly taking the name of their product (Hyper-V)...enough so that it could cause enough confusion where Citrix gets sales instead of Microsoft (which in all my experience, has never been a decent product from the standpoint of working worth a crap with Windows systems, albeit it does have its uses).
They could have at the very least came up with a unique name.

Oh something else to add...no matter how popular and deployed ANY virtualization technology presents, youi sitll have the supportability issue (such as, Microsoft gives only best effort support for most server functions on any other virtualization technology outside of their own; when it comes to certificate servers and domain controllers, they give none. I imagine the same goes for Linux running on MS Hyper-V or Virtual Server..I bet Linux won't fully support the OS). If you are going to virtualize, you need to virtualize using a product from the manufacturer whose OS you run on the virtual machines in order to be fully supported by the manufacturers.
DozerIAm
not rated yet Jan 29, 2009
What happens when the software provider's server goes down, or worse when the company goes out of business suddenly? Poof there goes your software and if you are really destined for a bad day, your data as well. No thanks, I'll stich with buying software that I can own, backup, and manage on my own.