VMware Touts Enterprise Hosted Desktop At VMworld


At VMworld 2005 in Las Vegas, Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware is expected to detail how upcoming upgrades, ESX 3 and VirtualCenter 2, can be used to deploy secure managed desktop services and remote access to the enterprise. Both products, announced Monday, are in limited beta testing and are due to ship in the first quarter of 2006.

Enterprise Hosted Desktop is yet another approach to managing and securing the desktop, but it's not likely to please Citrix Systems and Microsoft, according to David Greschler, vice president at Boston-based Softricity, whose application virtualization software runs atop the Enterprise Hosted Desktop.

"It's a replacement for the [Citrix] MetaFrame server," Greschler said. "You can fire up [Windows] XP on a server using ESX and have XP sessions using RDP [Remote Desktop Protocol] to screen scrape to a client. It's not unlike Microsoft terminal services and Citrix, but it's done in a different way."

Partners lined up at VMworld to tout their own hosted solutions. At VMworld 2005 on Tuesday, for instance, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM unveiled its IBM Virtualized Hosted Client Infrastructure with partners VMware and Citrix. The solution pairs an IBM xSeries or BladeCenter server with versions of VMWare's virtual infrastructure software and Citrix's Presentation Server pre-integrated.

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VMware Workstation, VMware's first desktop product, traditionally has been used for application development and testing purposes, like Microsoft's Virtual PC. Version 5.5, which was introduced last month, is currently in beta testing and expected to be released later this year.

VMware said virtual machines created with VMware Workstation can be deployed to its GSX Server and data center-class VMware ESX Server platforms. Once deployed on GSX Server or ESX Server, VirtualCenter can be used to manage these virtual machines, the company said.

According to information about the Enterprise Hosted Desktop on VMware's Web site, the company's virtual infrastructure can be used to provide centrally hosted virtual desktops to remote users. Using VirtualCenter 2, for instance, desktops can be managed, secured, scaled and provisioned more easily than traditional methods.

Mike Reilly, managing partner at Foedus, a VMware and Softricity partner in Portsmouth, N.H., said the combination resolves key desktop management issues.

"It's got a lot of potential, the Enterprise Hosted Desktop, in being able to leverage a virtual desktop instance," Reilly said. "VMware breaks the bind between the OS and the hardware, and Softricity breaks the bind between the application and the operating system. We can use those two things in concert."

Like many ISVs, VMware is trying to leverage its virtual infrastructure technology to help customers reduce the cost of desktop management, said Paul Ghostine, president of Emergent Online, a VMware VIP and VMware Authorized Consulting partner. "There are many ways of doing it, with [VMware] Enterprise Hosted Desktop, Citrix Online, Web Ex and other managed desktop services," he said.

Microsoft confirmed last spring that it is experimenting with a managed desktop service with Energizer Holdings and several other corporate customers.

The Enterprise Hosted Desktop is different from ACE, VMware's other desktop-related product. ACE is a utility that lets users build secure corporate desktop images on CDs that can be handed to outside contractors, and partners can securely load them onto their laptops, plug into the network without any risk of infection and have the same user interface as internal workers.