User virtualization in the Cloud

 As the Cloud matures into a viable platform and people start considering delivering applications and desktops from the Cloud then being able to deliver user environments both internally and externally becomes even more important.

First, let’s recap a little on the essential nature of the Cloud. First and foremost Cloud is a different business model for providing computing, all the technology requirements spring from the business model. Cloud is a utility model where you can buy the services you need for the period you need them and then, if you choose, stop buying them. This contrasts with the way people have typically paid for IT: Buying machines and software which we then own but may not always need. One of the key effects of the Cloud model is that customers are free to move from one provider to another for some or all of their users and to buy different services from different providers. So, for example, email could be bought from one provider while word processing, etc. could be bought elsewhere. What is more not all services have to externally provided, you can choose to treat your internal IT as a cloud – referred to as an ‘internal cloud’.

With these thoughts in mind let’s look at how Cloud will change user virtualization. In the case of an internal cloud not much changes compared to what we do today for desktop virtualization. In exactly the same way as we currently deliver user environments into hosted virtual desktops to configure and personalize them we will  do the same for desktops and applications in our internal clouds. For external clouds the most practical solution will probably be to deliver from users’ environments to each cloud provider because it gives flexibility to buy services from multiple cloud providers. Longer term there are other ways that may become practical but which still do not change the basic idea of managing a user’s environment separate from the platform in which it is used. So while Cloud would seem to be completely different some aspects remain the same as today. Also crucially, the work done today to componentize as part of desktop virtualization is an enabler for the use of future models such as Cloud.

Martin Ingram.

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