VMworld: Telus shows off virtual desktop success

SAN FRANCISCO — VMware Inc. brought one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies and service providers to the stage of its international user conference Tuesday to show how its desktop virtualization software can be deployed within large enterprise environments.

Chris Renter, director of IT infrastructure at Burnaby, B.C.-based Telus Communications Co. was the lone customer to appear in the opening keynote of VMworld 2009, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees over the next few days. Renter was here to discuss Telus’s use of VMware View, software launched last year that allows organizations to log into a server-based Windows desktop session via a Web browser or Java client running on thin or fat client hardware.

Renter said Telus has used VMware View internally to rapidly deploy more than 1,000 desktops across its employee base.

“We have this in one of our development centres and one of our contact centres,” he told the keynote crowd, adding that major events that congest traffic in B.C. – like the forthcoming 2010 Olympic Games – make virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) a more attractive proposition.

Telus’ demonstration included the use of PC over IP (PCoIP), a display protocol technology that VMware licensed from Teradici Corp. about a year ago. PCoIP will let VMware View include both server hosted virtual desktops and client virtual desktops that can run on a laptop or PC. This means VMware View can provide a more personalized view of users’ desktops from any device while still managing the fleet from the data centre. VMware CEO Paul Maritz described PCoIP as a major factor in making desktop virtualization, which has trailed the virtualization of servers, more ubiquitous.

“It’s really allowing centralization of corporate data,” Renter said.

Maritz asked Renter if, once Telus has gotten more used to deploying VMware View internally, it would offer virtual desktops as a service to its clients. “It’s definitely a possibility of something we could look at in the future,” Renter replied.

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada just before VMworld 2009 began, Info-Tech Research Group Ltd. analyst John Sloan said he was hoping to see some traction on VDI and PCoIP from VMware.

“VMware and Citrix are pretty much neck-and-neck in terms of exploration by IT departments and the two were quite far ahead of any other competition,” he said. “If you’re in a horse race like this you don’t want it to look like development has stalled.”

The VMware View portion of the keynote was only part of a broad strategy Maritz outlined that included several additions to the company’s vCenter series of management software products. These included a Labs Manager for development environments, a Lifecycle Manager to monitor virtual machines, an Operations Scheduler and a Chargeback Manager. In a demo, a VMware executive showed how IT managers could use the latter tool to track the specific costs associated with the CPUs, disk read and write to gauge who uses what kind of compute resources in the company at a given time. Even if an organization isn’t using a full-scale chargeback system, Martiz said, the tool could help provide reports on trends that could lead to better resource allocation.

Hewlett Packard Co., meanwhile, announced its Insight software would be integrated with vCenter to let IT departments manage and monitor physical as well as virtual servers.

VMware has also submitted its vCloud APIs to standards bodies so that other organizations will be able to integrate it into their billing systems and other mission-critical areas, Maritz said.

Finally, Maritz welcomed SpringSource Inc., a company it recently acquired in order to add enterprise Java workloads and better compete against Microsoft Corp., VMware’s chief competitor in the virtualization space. The high I/O activity and complexity of Java workloads are often seen as prohibitive to virtualization, but SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson demonstrated some early work that would ease the pain for IT departments.

Maritz said it was critical to simplify application infrastructure changes, as well as working with service providers in order to help clients move privately-run virtual environments into the cloud.

“Otherwise, cloud could become like the ultimate Hotel California,” he said. “You can check in applications any time you like, but you can’t get them out.”

VMworld runs until Thursday.

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