It's too early to tell whether IT managers will choose Microsoft's virtualization technology Hyper-V as the basis of their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments, but if and when they do, Austin, Texas-based VDIworks is waiting in the wings with its connection broker and VDI management software. The technology integrates with Microsoft System Center and Hyper-V. In May, VDIworks spun off from PC blade manufacturer ClearCube Technology, which marketed the connection broker software as Sentral. VDIworks still supplies its software to ClearCube under the Sentral brand, but also makes it available for non-ClearCube environments.
Among the capabilities VDIworks delivers are the discovery of client and server hardware, hypervisors and virtual machines (VMs), both online and offline. It also integrates with a variety of hypervisors' application programming interfaces, including VMware Inc.'s ESX Server, to perform tasks such as stopping and starting VMs and performing connection brokering capabilities such as load balancing and VM pooling.
Now, with VDIvision for System Center, VDIworks customers can perform those functions directly from the System Center console, said Rick Hoffman, VDIworks' CEO.
Big fish in Microsoft's VDI pond
VDIvision for System Center is the first of many possible management console integrations, Hoffman added, with plans in place for integration in to VMware VirtualCenter and others. But VDIworks opted to integrate with System Center first, because Microsoft does not yet have connection broker technology of its own.
"VMware and Citrix [Systems Inc.] already have their own connection broker and management tools," said Hoffman. "Microsoft's main focus is coming up to parity with the other hypervisors, so it is relying on the partner ecosystem for VDI."
Hoffman saw no reason why IT pros couldn't use Hyper-V to host desktop VMs, but he noted a caveat. "Except for live migration, there's nothing really missing from Hyper-V to provide a very good VDI environment," he said. But in the year since VDIworks decoupled Sentral from ClearCube hardware and made it available for managing other environments, VDI has yet to take off, Hoffman said.
"It's still in the earliest stages," Hoffman said. "There are a lot of proof of concepts going on, with people trying to figure out where they can use [VDI], because it's not a fit for everything."
Unresolved issues surrounding VDI include imperfect full-screen video playback, inadequate support for mobile computing, and the relatively high-cost of thin-client devices. However, Hoffman said key vendors are working hard on all those issues.