Client hypervisors are going mainstream, but management is the real prize

Microsoft made news today by confirming what many of us already suspected: Windows 8 will include a PC-optimized version of the Hyper-V hypervisor that has been part of Windows Server since 2008. This is an exciting development, as it will apply the power of modern PC platforms to support new use cases and management possibilities.

As Microsoft program manager Matthew John noted on the Building Windows 8 blog:

Hyper-V enables developers to easily maintain multiple test environments and provides a simple mechanism to quickly switch between these environments without incurring additional hardware costs. For example, we release pre-configured virtual machines containing old versions of Internet Explorer to support web developers. The IT administrator gets the additional benefit of virtual machine parity and a common management experience across Hyper-V in Windows Server and Windows Client. We also know that many of you use virtualization to try out new things without risking changes to the PC you are actively using.

While power users and IT pros will rejoice over the ability to run an multi-OS environment for testing, sandboxing, or legacy compatibility purposes, the most significant statement is my eyes is “a common management experience across Hyper-V in Windows Server and Windows Client.” While it is only teased in this initial post, management innovation is what will determine whether client hypervisor technology is a a novelty or a game-changer.

The true promise of client-side virtualization has less to do with running multiple OS instances on a PC (though it’s useful in a number of situations) and more to do applying the virtualization management goodness like hardware abstraction, simplified OS deployment and patching, and simplified troubleshooting and recovery through techniques such as VM snapshots to reduce desktop management cost and complexity. So, if you think about it for a moment, Microsoft adding a client hypervisor is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning.

That said, a shift from traditional PC management techniques to more efficient approaches that use virtual machine technology cannot happen overnight. This is where Microsoft is in a unique position, as the System Center family is really the only systems management solution that effectively straddles the physical and virtual worlds. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Microsoft is in extending System Center’s virtualization management capabilities to PCs as a complement to System Center Configuration Manager.

This point of convergence between native and virtual desktop deployment is also where AppSense achieves maximum strategic value. Microsoft’s move confirms what AppSense customers are already telling us every day: there is not a single answer as to how enterprise desktops will deployed moving forward. The enterprise computing environment has become a heterogenous collection of technologies and deployment approaches. This heterogeneity will only grow as new computing paradigms such as tablets and cloud computing emerge and new deployment techniques such as client hypervisors move into the mainstream.

When heterogeneity reigns, AppSense reigns, as we are the “glue” that can bring disparate vendor technologies, operating systems, and deployment approaches (native or virtual) together. Client hypervisors are just one more tool in the IT toolbox.

Doug Lane
Director of Product Marketing

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