Friday, August 26, 2005

Can virtualization take over the computer desktop world?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about virtualization. If I read another article about how virtualization is the shit and someday all systems will be virtualized, I think I am going to get sick. In my opinion, it's Banana's...that's B - A - N - A - N - A - S!

We have a long way to go before virtualization technology is adopted readily and the common user will give up their coveted desktop. VMWare recently came out with a product called ACE.
It is a virtual PC desktop pushed out by the server. I've not tested the product but from what I have read it is an interesting offering. However I predict this product is not going to take off and get any better reception by users than Microsoft terminal services has.

The reason Citrix is so popular is that you can publish(and control) a single application seamlessly, and the user can STILL maintain their local desktop on how they want it to be. You can't really currently do that with terminal services unless you get a third party product like Provision-It. Then Citrix takes it a step further and allows you to get your applications from a Web Interface. You can run your app anywhere there is a web browser and the ICA client. It is a panacea...almost. There are web browsers everywhere but the ICA client isn't on all of it really isn't access everywhere as Citrix likes to claim. At least not yet. (and don't start to tell me but what about the Java client?) Not every PC/OS has java either. Ask Citrix about their stance on Linux and they just shrug.

Until we can truly run applications in any browser without requiring some special plugin OR special browser OR a certain OS, panacea will never be achieved. The .Net initiative is getting us close...Sun Java Platform is a cool thing but the train is going in two different directions and you really can't tell which way it is going by looking at the track.

The company that comes along with a way to allow an application to truly run on any platform within ANY browser, on ANY device (as Citrix marketspeakedly claims but doesn't fully deliver right at this point) will revolutionize the PC industry and yes finally the "virtual desktop" will be well received and users will have that elusive "panacea". Don't expect it to see it anytime soon though, that is unless you are watching Star Trek. ~jak

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