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VMware desktop virtualization server back ends: VSphere and ESX

VMware vSphere and ESX are powerful back ends for desktop virtualization. This section of our guide explores VMware server back ends for desktop virtualization.

The established market leader in virtualization today is unarguably VMware. Enjoying the largest share of today's overall virtualization market, VMware stands firm as the leader within the server virtualization space. With VMware desktop virtualization is enabled through the same hypervisor that VMware uses for server virtualization solutions: vSphere and ESX. This combination of technologies creates a high-performance virtualization solution that is designed for environments of all sizes.


Back ends for desktop virtualization: A guide

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VMware desktop virtualization is generally enabled through the addition of its add-on VMware View product. This VMware desktop virtualization kit enables the specialized management functionality that is required to create a virtual desktop infrastructure. It also houses the network transport that enables individual clients -- via thick clients, desktops, or laptops-- to locate and interact with assigned desktops.

VMware View atop vSphere and ESX automates the provisioning of desktops to users. With desktop templates, this tool creates virtual pools of desktops that are bound by management policies. Images can be created as linked clones that are sourced from a master image and deployed to desktops with little administrative effort. VMware View leverages the PC over IP desktop display protocol to route desktop traffic to users over local area and wide area network connections. This protocol is specifically designed to ensure a full-fidelity experience for users, including rich media support over even latent and low-bandwidth connections.

But enabling a desktop for a user is only the first step in the process. Providing application access is what real users need. VMware improves this process through VMware ThinApp, which enables applications to be streamed to desktops rather than be installed. This tool virtualizes applications, decoupling them from desktop images and enabling their just-in-time delivery to users. Through this separation, ThinApp also improves the management of applications, enabling administrators to specifically control which applications are targeted to which desktops and users, while reducing the size of each individual desktop.

Currently in an experimental version, VMware View offers a kind of VMware desktop hypervisor that enables users to run managed virtual desktops on local user hardware. This process enables users to interact with their desktop in an offline mode during periods when they cannot connect with the datacenter.

Greg Shields is an independent author, instructor, Microsoft MVP and IT consultant based in Denver. He is a co-founder of Concentrated Technology LLC and has nearly 15 years of experience in IT architecture and enterprise administration. Shields specializes in Microsoft administration, systems management and monitoring, and virtualization. He is the author of several books, including Windows Server 2008: What's New/What's Changed , available from Sapien Press.

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