VMware alliance will promote virtual desktops

A new alliance headed by EMC's VMware division hopes to make it easier to deploy virtualised desktops in the enterprise and make bulky, unmanageable standalone PCs a thing of the past.

EMC unveiled the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Alliance (VDIA) last week. The alliance will look for ways to encourage enterprise adoption of centrally hosted thin-client desktop technology as a replacement for standalone PCs.

VDIA includes more than 20 vendors with expertise in servers, security, thin clients, services and other segments. IBM, HP, and Sun Microsystems signed on. Virtualisation and server-hosted client computing players such as Citrix, Platform Computing and Softricity are also participating.

The VDIA's goal is to develop combinations of products that were certified to work together so customers could deploy virtualised desktop solutions quickly and with confidence in the enterprise, VMware director of enterprise desktops, Jerry Chen, said.

That's not to say that members of the alliance are expected to play nicely with each other.

"A lot of the vendors are competitors," he said, "so it's mostly about integrating their technology with our platform."

VMware will develop and certify virtual desktop solutions with VDIA members and build a catalogue of goods that EMC can offer to large accounts. The VDIA members get to have their products marketed by EMC's services arm, Chen said.

Alliances are springing up everywhere in the virtualisation space to team-sell the enterprise market. VDIA members, Altiris and Platform Computing, have separate alliances of their own: Platform Computing with heavyweights Intel and Novell; Altiris with Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle.

Hurdles persisted for wide-scale adoption of virtualised desktops, Chen said. They included sensitivity to network slowdowns and outages, and security concerns about granting access to the local desktop's peripherals.

VMware was optimising its server technology and focusing on devices, protocols and management to overcome those issues, Chen said.

Despite the challenges, Chen is pumped up about the VDI technology.

"These are desktops without limits," Chen said.

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