Microsoft, Red Hat, HP, Sun boost desktop virtualization

Rash of vendor announcements aim to bolster desktop virtualization's standing in corporate IT

If there is any doubt that vendors want to poke desktop virtualization into the psyche of corporate IT, then last week's rash of vendor announcements should put all that to rest.

Microsoft, Red Hat, HP, and Sun all moved to improve their standing in terms of enterprise desktop virtualization software.

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Microsoft, in a move to shore up its ongoing virtualized desktop story, announced that App-V 4.5 has been completed and that it will be included in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2008 R2, which is set for release in a few weeks.

App-V (formerly Softgrid) lets users package applications up into "containers," store them on a server where they can be centrally managed, and then stream those containers to desktops, devices, or shared PCs.

Microsoft has been pushing what it calls the Optimized Desktop, which addresses centralized management and deployment of physical and virtual resources.

With App-V 4.5, which is the first version developed under the company's Trustworthy Computing and Secure by Default guidelines, Microsoft introduced integration with System Center management tools, including the System Center Operations Manager 2007 Management Pack for App-V 4.5 servers. The software also features Dynamic Suite Composition (DSC), which lets virtualized applications share middleware resources; support for 11 languages; and a service-provider license option called Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 Hosting for Desktops.

Microsoft also announced that Citrix is releasing a version of Citrix XenDesktop that will integrate with System Center Virtual Machine Manager when that software ships later this month

Red Hat rounds up
Meanwhile, Red Hat extended its virtualization wares to the desktop by acquiring vendor Qumranet, which develops a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform called SolidICE.

The technology is based on a Linux kernel technology called Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), which Qumranet wrote and then took open source.

SolidICE provides IT with centralized desktop and image management, high availability, and provisioning for any desktop operating system.

Red Hat said the privately held Qumranet's development, test and support staff, including those that lead the KVM project, will join Red Hat.

The company said in a statement its long-term goal is to infuse servers and desktops with virtualization technology that is built into the operating system.

In a statement, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said, "Put simply, Qumranet's KVM and VDI technologies are at the forefront of the next generation of virtualization."

Meanwhile, HP announced that it was upgrading its HP Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) platform with the HP VDI Citrix XenDesktop. HP said the Citrix version could be used for entry-level implementations up to enterprisewide desktop delivery.

XenDesktop uses virtual machine technology to deliver the Windows desktop from a central server to network clients. XenDesktop gives the IT staff the ability to centrally managed desktops. HP also said its will offer "Citrix Ready" blade PCs and thin clients.

Sun too
Sun introduced Version 2.0 of xVM VirtualBox, which lets users load virtual machines onto a desktop and install the operating system of their choice. VirtualBox 2.0 adds support for 64-bit Windows Vista and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and features new platform support options and performance enhancements.

The Macintosh and Sun Solaris versions were upgraded with network performance enhancements. Sun also has improved performance on AMD-based PCs.

Sun also introduced xVM VirtualBox Software Enterprise Subscription, around-the-clock premium support that starts at $30 per user per year.

The IDG News Service contributed to this report. Network World is an InfoWorld affiliate.

This story, "Microsoft, Red Hat, HP, Sun boost desktop virtualization" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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