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Back ends for desktop virtualization: A guide

This guide on desktop virtualization and back-end virtualization engines covers how hypervisors from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems enable desktop virtualization.

Have you considered desktop virtualization? The technology, which—according to research by Gartner Inc. will gain steam over the next couple of years—is also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), hosted desktops, hosted virtual desktops and a host of other buzz phrases? As virtualization becomes a mainstream technology in today's business IT environments, this new approach to delivering managed desktops has gained momentum.

SERVER BACK ENDS FOR DESKTOP VIRTUALIZATION:

Back ends for desktop virtualization: A guide

VMware desktop virtualization server back ends

Microsoft server back ends for desktop virtualization

Citrix Systems server back ends for desktop virtualization
At its core, desktop virtualization is a mechanism for relocating users' desktops away from their actual "desktops" and into a protected and well-managed data center. By decoupling a desktop from its physical location, users can access a desktop through virtually any network connection, IT managers and virtualization administrators gain greater management and control, and a company gains assurance that its sensitive data remains protected in its data center rather than roaming free and subject to risk and security breaches.

While it's a useful tool for today's knowledge workers, desktop virtualization suits nonstandard needs as well. Kiosk, lab, disaster recovery, and hot desk environments such as call centers stand to gain from desktop virtualization's standardization, rapid deployment and network delivery capabilities.

But as one of today's hot topics, desktop virtualization is also one of the newer technologies on the block. So determining the best back end virtualization engine for desktop virtualization can be difficult. Some technologies include high-end features and a high-end price. Others support fewer capabilities but offer greater affordability. Finding the desktop virtualization competitive analysis that works for you is the first step in making a smart decision about this new technology.

While any desktop virtualization technology has many moving parts, this guide's desktop virtualization comparison focuses on the back-end virtualization engines that make the virtual in virtualization happen.

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.

This was last published in December 2009

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