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VMware brings virtualistation to desktop PCs

Unveils easier, scalable desktop virtualisation

VMware this week announced at the VMworld Europe show that it is to produce software that makes desktop virtualisation easier to deploy.

The company has so far concentrated mainly on server virtualisation, where the rewards, both from the user's and the vendor's perspectives, are in many ways easier to measure and to achieve.

However, this approach has allowed some other vendors, such as Parallels among others, to avoid competing with the virtualisation market leader while carving out a niche for themselves. VMware is set to rectify this and provided three demonstrations of the new technology at its first VMworld show in Europe this week.

VMware CEO Diane Greene demonstrated the technology, which is likely to become product very soon, onstage in Cannes as part of her opening keynote speech. She showed VMware's scalable virtual image technology, which allows IT admins to update multiple VMs from a single master image. It uses technology that Greene described as linked cloning. The benefits were that it saved storage and speeded up the deployment and management of multiple enterprise desktop VMs, she said.

She also showed technology that allows centrally hosted desktop images to be run offline, allowing a user to take a centrally hosted VM with them when they leave the office and sync it up when they get back. It's aimed at workers who need to check out their hosted desktops and use them offline while travelling.

"We'll be shipping this soon," she said.

And finally Greene demonstrated application virtualisation technology acquired with Thinstall, which VMware announced last month. It offers similar benefits to Microsoft's application virtualisation, inherited when it acquired Softricity. Out in beta this week, the technology allows applications to be packaged into a single executable, then deployed and run without changing anything in the host machine's OS, such as the Windows registry.

Showing the importance VMware attaches to desktop virtualisation technology, Greene quoted research company Gartner as saying that, by the end of 2010, all new PC deployments will be virtualised.

"I think it's aggressive but I think the value is really there," she said. "When you run desktops on a server and they're centrally managed, they're more secure, and they're easier to update and deploy."

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