Desktop virtualisation is set to reign supreme in new era

25 Mar 2010

As Microsoft prepares to withdraw support for Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows 7 has unleashed many possibilities, the foremost being desktop virtualisation, says Ronnie Dockery, Windows Client Lead, Microsoft.

How is Microsoft aligning its partner ecosystem to take advantage of the desktop virtualisation revolution?

We work with Citrix in this whole space; it’s a relationship that goes back 20 years. Our technologies complement each other – Citrix was the original leader in the thin client space and we leverage that tradition with our solutions.

Their XenDesktop family is a class-managing solution that makes desktop virtualisation real and tangible. From the server hosting of virtual machines, it is then all managed through Microsoft Systems Center – that’s a key differential we have from the competition. This makes it possible to manage your entire desktop virtualisation strategy through a single pane of glass, efficiently and affordably.

Why would a business embark on a desktop virtualisation strategy – what’s the rationale?

Businesses increasingly want more flexibility and, from an optimised desktop point of view, they really want the agility and therefore to lend themselves to the virtualised desktop environment.

Desktop virtualisation is particularly conducive to flexible working. If you’re a worker who moves from different sites and different desktops it allows you to log into a thin client and your profile follows you with all your apps and files.

Your identity governs profiles, how your desktop is managed and what apps you can use. It is possible for the IT manager to lock it down and optimise it centrally. This overcomes the problem of workers losing files.

Is desktop virtualisation widely in use in businesses today?

It is just taking off and exists in pockets in companies. In effect, it is really about what the users want to do. Even if they want to carry a laptop, it’s a way of making sure that files are kept secure and centrally managed.

We see it as a fantastic technology and believe it will only grow and grow. The technology has been around for years, but now the solutions to make it happen are there, along with proven technologies and proven customers. In a more and more demanding information world, it gives businesses that extra agility.

Is Windows 7 a catalyst for the broader adoption of desktop virtualisation?

We believe so. People are looking at the entire desktop infrastructure and want to be more efficient and optimise the environment. It allows organisations to be more agile and removes the blocks on what they want to do.

It allows a user to log on from anywhere in the world, whether it’s Tahiti or Tralee, from different sites. It’s a much more streamlined desktop solution.

How do you think it will save businesses money?

Overall, from a desktop perspective, the agility alone along with the demand for flexible working is key. It removes the painpoint in managing flexible workers – it really is the next level in terms of agility and how this is driving innovation in the enterprise.

People rarely work in a nine to five way anymore, it’s almost 24/7 and desktop virtualisation lends itself to people who want to work flexible hours, whether they’re on the road or working from home.

Microsoft is holding its Virtualisation Summit at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin on 30 March.

Photo: Ronnie Dockery, Windows Client Lead, Microsoft

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years