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Virtualization Briefs: Virtual PCs, Appliances, take center stage at VMworld

Everywhere you looked at VMworld, VMware partners extolled the virtues of virtualization both for desktop hosting and as a software delivery mechanism.

NEC VDI thin clients support video, VoIP

Japanese electronics giant NEC is promoting a new thin client family that leverages the VMware Desktop Initiative, or VDI, over traditional approaches such as Citrix and Windows Terminal Services.

The US100 thin client device is no bigger than a paperback novel, yet features integrated full-motion video and voice-over-IP processing capabilities and figured prominently in VMware president Diane Greene's keynote speech at VMworld on Tuesday. Speaking from the stage, Greene demonstrated how a VMware "intern" using the US100 could use standard productivity applications while simultaneously playing Microsoft Pinball and watching the movie "Office Space".

Supporting the US100 on the backend is NEC's new "All-in-One" NEC Express5800/Virtual PC Center (VPCC), which includes a server that can host up to 20 virtual PC desktops. It comes pre-loaded with Management Server software that enables tasks such as reallocation of VPCC resources, application provisioning or bulk application of security patches.

"It's a change of the age," said Kazuhiko Kobayashi, NEC executive vice president and member of the board.

Indeed, the idea of hosted virtual desktops is gaining rapid acceptance, said Brian Byun, VMware vice president of products and alliances. "VDI has had the fastest adoption cycle we've seen," he said. "We think it's going to be as big as server consolidation."

Cisco competitor takes virtual appliance route

Zeus Technology, which makes application traffic management software that competes with hardware-based products from companies such as Cisco and Juniper Networks, announced the industry's first application traffic management virtual appliance, distributed as a VMware .vmdk file.

Zeus already deploys its ZXTM software on hardware appliances, but according to Damian Reeves, Zeus CTO and US general manager, those devices are often highly underutilized. "Our hardware appliances are deployed on the edge of the network in pairs – so automatically one is completely underutilized just sitting there, while the other is running at 15 – 20%. It's a huge waste of resources," he said. Distributing ZXTM as a virtual appliance will give customers the ability to choose where they want to deploy the software.

But virtual appliances are only a first step, said Reeves. "They're kind of like getting to first base." Zeus is also working on an advanced technology project with VMware that would create packages of aggregate multi-tier applications, Reeves said.

For example, a CRM application may contain as many as seven tiers, Reeves said: the database, the CRM software, an application server, web server, load balancing serves, intrusion detection, and health monitoring. As an application traffic management system, Zeus software understands the relationships between the different tiers and can be instrumental in coordinating the dynamic assignment of resources across the virtual infrastructure.

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