Wednesday, May 14, 2008

HP partners with Desktone to advance virtualized desktops as a service

Desktone, the desktop as a service (DaaS) provider, has lined up a powerful ally in Hewlett-Packard (HP), which has signed on as the first member of Desktone's partner program for desktop virtualization technology.

Desktone announced HP's involvement at the same time it unveiled its service provider partner program designed to enable service providers in the IT hosting, outsourcing and datacom businesses to offer DaaS to their clients. HP's Flexible Computing Services (FCS) will be the first participant. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP, along with ClearCube Technology, also provides physical PC Blade Desktops. In this model, individual "client blade" PCs are used to host multiple independent user sessions, each one running on its own physical PC blade. In this case, it's possible to host as many client PC blades as you have rack space, power and data center space to accommodate, according to Wikipedia.

The Desktone partner program is aimed at service providers already in the hosting or outsourcing business and who want to leverage existing data center assets. Desktone said that partners who sign up in 2008 would have direct input into the company's Virtual-D platform product direction.

While many companies can benefit from virtualizing their desktops, building the infrastructure can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. Acquiring the technology as a service, and paying for it as an operating expense can put the technology within the reach of many of those businesses.

For those who may be hazy on the concept of desktop virtualization, ZDNet blogger Dan Kusnetzky gave a short primer back in March on what desktop virtualization is and why you should care:

Desktop virtualization is encapsulating and delivering either access to an entire information system environment or the environment itself to a remote device. This device may be based upon an entirely different hardware architecture than that used by the projected desktop environment. It may also be based upon an entirely different operating system as well.

The Virtual-D Platform enables service providers to offer hosted, subscription-based virtual desktops through a single, automated self-service platform. Enterprises can realize the full benefits of centralized virtual desktops without having to build and deploy the infrastructure internally. The Virtual-D Platform comprises two tiers, enterprise and service provider, which lets enterprises maintain ownership and control over their desktops while outsourcing the physical data center infrastructure powering those virtual desktops.

I saw the vast potential of DaaS nearly a year ago, when Desktone announced a big infusion of venture capital. At the time, I wrote:

The ability to deliver a PC operating environment in a way users are accustomed to via grid/utility efficiencies in a way that appeals to the realities of enterprise IT departments and needs may be a seed that has a long way to grow. But compelling economics and the movement generally to services delivery portends a fast-growing new market segment for home, SMB and large business users. Telcos and cable providers will need to provide these kinds of services, for sure.

Desktone is part of a burgeoning ecology of desktop virtualization providers, including Quest's Provision Networks, Citrix, VMware, WebGlobix and Ericom.

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