HP unveils new services for client virtualization

Hewlett-Packard Co. unveiled Wednesday a new client infrastructure portfolio of services designed to give IT departments better control over today’s mobile device-agnostic end user. One analyst said the portfolio’s focus on client virtualization is where enterprises are looking to cut costs.


The end user profile is quite different from what it used to be, with users working on smart phones and mobile PC devices, said Tom Norton, global practice director of Microsoft and client infrastructure consulting services with Hewlett-Packard.


“When you look at the apps, the data, the operating systems, most of those can be controlled from a data centre perspective,” said Norton. “They don’t need to reside in the wild.”


The HP Client Infrastructure Services portfolio is an extension of the vendor’s converged infrastructure that focuses on building private cloud services in data centres. Norton said HP has blended best practices from both the data centre and client environments into the new portfolio. “There’s this natural overlap that’s taking place now,” he said.


The portfolio includes HP Client Strategy Services designed to help customers understand the complexities of the client environment and build a roadmap.


Part of that is the HP Client Virtualization Services, is designed to help customers rethink what they need to have on a desktop with the end goal of virtualizing their PCs, said Norton. In the case of end users who work with sensitive data, Norton said mitigating that risk can mean keeping the data in the data centre as opposed to locally on user machines. 


John Sloan, research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said one of the value propositions of desktop virtualization is being able to move an IT department’s focus from managing desktop assets to managing a service that’s delivered from a data centre.


“(The new portfolio) makes a lot of sense,” said Sloan. “It really is in line with some of the trends we’re seeing more broadly like virtual desktop infrastructure.”


Norton said HP purposefully did not name the client virtualization service as desktop-as-a-service because the latter implies a mature infrastructure with advanced components like governance and reporting. But there numerous ways to virtual desktops, said Norton, and at varying degrees of complexity given individual customer situations.


The idea is that the services will put customers on track to further build upon their converged infrastructure over time, said Norton. “But for smaller organizations, they can build a client virtualization environment that can mature into desktop-as-a-service very easily after that,” he said.


There is the danger with desktop-as-a-service, said Sloan, that it can be interpreted as strictly desktop virtualization when there are other options like continuing to maintain the operating system on the machine while virtualizing applications.


The decision by HP to not use the term desktop-as-a-service, said Sloan, probably means potential customers “can look more broadly at the principle with is to abstract your desktop experience from one piece of hardware.”


Another component, HP Client Migration Services to assist customers in migrating to the Windows 7 operating system. Norton said the service takes advantage of the opportunity that businesses will be undergoing refresh cycles with the availability of the new operating system.


HP is taking a hybrid approach with these services to take only what is appropriate for the end user into the data centre, creating a mix of mobile devices and traditional desktops, virtual desktops and application virtualization.


Sloan said the hybrid approach by HP aligns with the fact that what has traditionally encompassed desktop virtualization is broadening. The traditional definition of thin clients and hosted applications “worked for only a niche market of dedicated task workers,” said Sloan.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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