Inside Intel: A plan for desktop virtualization

An interview with Intel's CIO, Diane Bryant, reveals a long-term strategy to put a virtual machine on every device

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Dineley: So you're an Exchange shop and you're using ActiveSync?

Bryant: Yes, so it's very low cost for us. And to your point, how many iPhones: In January when we launched we had 8,000 BlackBerrys; we now have 9,000 employee-owned devices in the environment. The vast majority are iPhones. And we all know how often we use our handheld devices to stay connected -- those hot emails that you need to reply to. Now we have that many more employees who are that much more productive. The survey feedback says that they save 30 minutes a day because they have that information on their devices. When they walk down the hallway trying to find a conference room, they don't have to open their notebook, they just look [at their handheld device]. It was a huge productivity gain, but from a client virtualization perspective, the employee had to sign up and say: "You can wipe my device." Where we want to get to is a secure, virtual partition on your smartphone device [so]when you lose the device I can wipe my VM and your personal data remains intact.

Knorr: You can't do that with an iPhone.

Bryant: You can't do that today on anything. That is what we're actively working on today. That's one example of why client virtualization is so key and why we're enabling it not just for your desktop or your notebook, but to be able to support secure partitions across a full range of devices that you may have or that I may want to buy for you.

Dineley: So you're a big believer in the client hypervisor?

Bryant: I am. I'm a big fan of it. But also I think what's more important is that virtualization technology is a foundational technology that enables many different use models.

Dineley: So not all Intel employees are going to have the same thin client?

Bryant: No, because all Intel employees are not the same. That's the same in any large corporation. In the old days you ignored that fact and you gave everybody the same device. Today you don't have to do that anymore. You can say: "You're a factory worker, here's the best device for you to be productive. You're a sales guy, you're on the road, you're always mobile, here's the best device for you. You're an engineer cranking massive computations, here's the best device for you." We've definitely gone to a segmented population, giving the best device to the employee based on their needs or multiple devices based on their needs.

In most cases we want the VM on the device, because you're not always connected. If the virtual machine is off in the cloud, there's an assumption that you're connected in order to be productive. That's just not a reality, so in general we want a rich client with the VM on the device.

There are cases where that isn't the best solution, though. For instance, our training rooms. We have large training rooms around Intel worldwide -- [with all] those desktop machines, how nice it would be if you didn't have to send IT guys out to maintain and update those machines. You just hold a virtual container out in the cloud, a virtual hosted desktop. It's a static solution, it's not used very frequently, but when it's used you want it to work. You don't want the employees coming in to be trained and the silly desktop doesn't run. So that's a great example of hosting out in the cloud. We have a proof of concept going on that demonstrates the lower total cost of ownership for IT.

Knorr: So client hypervisor is the model you're really going for. You've decided that VDI with a constant connection is not practical, except in these training-room type environments.

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