Print 16 comment(s) - last by deeznuts.. on Jan 30 at 3:25 PM

Desktop virtualization can be of huge benefit on the desktop

In past blogs, I’ve discussed some of the big-picture benefits for server virtualization. This week, I wanted to give some thought to the concept of desktop virtualization. Of the two technologies, the desktop variety has been much slower to take off in the marketplace, and frankly, there are some good reasons for that.

In both cases, the fundamental underlying technology operates on the same basic principle: By uncoupling the operating system and application software layers from the binary code layer that actually operates the chip-level hardware, you can accomplish some cool things. Perhaps the number one benefit is being able to create the illusion of multiple independent physical machines (AKA “virtual” machines) all living side by side on a single hardware platform. These virtual machines can lead diverse and independent lives, being dedicated to various tasks and even running on different operating systems.

The benefits at the server level are almost self evident. For one thing, running multiple virtual machines on a single box can be more efficient, because you can eliminate underutilized machines. As a result, you can reduce hardware costs, eliminate redundancy, and slash you electric bill. Support and maintenance costs can also be reduced, as you consolidate your data center.

So what’s the value proposition for doing this at the desktop level? For me, at least, the picture is a little murkier. If you assume one user per desktop, which is the norm in most computing environments today, then the economies mentioned above for servers no longer apply. You can virtualize any number of desktop machines one a single machine, and give users access to those machines over the network, but you still have to put some kind of physical device on each user’s desk. These devices can be slimmed down, stripped of many of the features commonly included in a PC, but with hardware costs so low these days, you’d really have to sharpen your pencil to uncover significant and compelling savings in the hardware department.

To read more on virtualization, head on over to IBM’s Server Virtualization website.

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Two words: Viruses, Pirating
By exploderator on 1/27/2009 7:54:39 AM , Rating: 2
Virtualisation is probably the only secure way to sandbox pirated software. If Windows OS'es and all AV offerings were actually good safe and sensible, if that were even possible, perhaps we wouldn't need VM's. But alas, utopia is but a dream.

Back on earth, we need something truly secure and convenient, and this seems like the only real candidate. Sad really, that the OS'es can't flex like VM solutions can, but I guess that crazy things like automatic decompilation, analisys, and subsequent automatic executable patching, are just too sophisticated for something you would supposedly pay for (Windows), but easy enough for free software (VirtualBox).

RE: Two words: Viruses, Pirating
By kattanna on 1/27/2009 10:27:24 AM , Rating: 1
i would actually love to see the next major versions of browsers all launch their own virtual machines to then run inside of when you launch them.

RE: Two words: Viruses, Pirating
By hemming on 1/28/2009 10:56:49 AM , Rating: 2
Why not do it yourself? VMware ThinApp or equivalent.

I run a ThinApp built version of FireFox so everything is caputred there. When I close the browser it will delete any temp data it had created.

Then again, I work there ;)

RE: Two words: Viruses, Pirating
By Spivonious on 1/28/2009 12:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
IE7 and IE8 both use sandboxing on Vista and above. Read about Protected Mode.

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