Friday, July 28, 2006

To heck with Virtual Machines, I want Virtual Session Profiles!

Remember the Virtual Workplace video Citrix showed at Iforum about 4 or 5 years ago? It was very Star Trekkish with a guy walking around with a little portable computer holding a tele/video conference with people around the world. He went from his office, to his car and then to his home where he plugged into a cradle and brought the conference up on his giant plasma TV. They connected people from all over the world. When the channel got staticy and dropped and then came back up, he went Oh never mind we just switched over to a new server.

Ok that was Citrix's vision of access back then. Any where, any place, and any device. Fast forward to 2006. The CPS 4 package has much of this functionality.. session reliability for example and application isolation so apps don't step on each other. Conferencing built in and more.

Now stay with me here and I will take you on a visionary dream of mine and eureka moment I had last evening in my sleep. (and yeah this happens all the time)

Maybe we are approaching this whole virtualization thing backwards. Instead of virtualizing servers and desktops I think we should be virtualizing user profile sessions.

Here is my dream. You know how VMWare has that Vmotion stuff where you can move a machine over from one physical server to another and not miss a beat?
That is pretty awesome stuff. I started thinking (while I was dreaming of course0 why can't someone come up with a way to have multiple identical servers with the same apps loaded on them and an admin tool that can take a users entire logon session profile(everything they are doing) and move JUST THE SESSION with the profile over to another machine. And then I took it a step further. It could be automated with a tool to monitor users sessions and move ones over that are stressing the CPU over to a less used machine. So instead of moving a whole server or machine over just move the user over. This is sort of what happened in the virtual workplace video.

I'm asking how hard can this be to do? Put the entire logon into a "virtual session profile"..everything the user is doing. If the users session slows down they get a flag that pops up that Asks if they would like to be moved to a less busy server, if they say yes, it saves their session state, tells the user to hang on a sec while it moves the session profile over to a new server and then restores and restarts the session on the new server. A step further...give the user the option to save their session logon state..apps open etc into a "virtual session profile" so that the could connect back in days, weeks or even months later exactly where they left off. (and it wouldn't matter which machine they connect to) With programs like softricity to hold the basic backend app information something like this should be doable. This is not the same thing as virtual desktops...I want virtual SESSION profiles not Desktops!

Such a virtualization method would be way more useful than virtual machines because you could do things like create a virtual profile with settings that would not be changed and use it across your organization, you could then have a flex type of setup that saved session settings and personal files in another home storage folder if necessary.

The benefits being you never have to reboot a server with users on it, you can have way more users on a real server than you can on a virtual server and you would have much more control over users sessions as you could set up a system to monitor only the ones you want. always make sure that the Directors virtual profile is sent to the least busy server. I know some of this stuff exists today but this is the panacea I want. Think it will ever happen? I do.

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