Will this appliance make desktop virtualization break through?

V3 Systems' Stratosphere appliance can support 50 to 400 virtual desktops running VMware View without the benefit of a SAN

Desktop virtualization is one of those categories that's always about to be heralded as "The Year of ..." But it never seems to get there. Indeed, there were just 500,000 virtual desktop units worldwide in 2009, according to Gartner researchers -- just 500,000. Let's face it, desktop virtualization is not sexy.

So it's noteworthy that at the Demo Spring 2011 conference in Palm Desert, Calif., this week, where consumer technologies and whizzy cloud applications are getting most of the attention, a meat-and-potatoes implementation of an old idea is getting noticed.

A Utah-based startup called V3 Systems is offering a virtualization appliance called the Stratosphere that sits in a standard server rack and can support from 50 to 400 virtual desktops running VMware View without the benefit of a SAN.

It's not cheap; the smallest, 50-unit Stratosphere costs about $28,000, while the 400-unit machine tops $70,000. But the company claims that its product eliminates the need for a storage area network and uses much less power than traditional virtualization infrastructure.

Companies using the Stratosphere can stream virtual machines to laptops, traditional thin clients, and even mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. V3 claims its technology makes virtual machines run anywhere from two to eight times as fast as local desktops.

Inside the 200-unit server are 24 Intel cores and 1.28TB of solid state storage, which gives the Stratosphere significantly more throughput than conventional servers, says David Youngberg of the company's engineering team.

This story, "Will this appliance make desktop virtualization break through?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.