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VMware to cut desktop storage by 80 per cent

The VM that follows you

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VMware is rebranding its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology as VMware View, and having virtual desktops built from a generic golden master and user-specific files that cut VDI storage space by up to 80 per cent.

According to Jocelyn Goldfein, VMware's global manager for its desktop business, the vClient initiative, the company is saying: "The desktop is the next big frontier for VMware virtualisation." Desktop virtualisation can be as transformative as server virtualisation. "Users are no longer tethered to a desk and want their desktop to follow them" as they move between PC, thin client, notebook, Mac with a virtualised Windows or, potentially, a smartphone.

Currently VDI is used to build and store desktop virtual machines (VMs) or VDI images, with one per user desktop. This can mean having a thousand or more VDI images stored on the server's disks. With View, VMware is changing to a model where the common elements of the hundreds and thousands of VDI images are stored in a single central file, the golden master, which is a snapshot file. Then the unique elements of each VDI are stored in separate files called linked clones and served by the View infrastructure to end-point devices, which are not necessarily PCs.

Composing desktop images

Goldfein says desktop virtualisation preserves the richness of a user's desktop as they move between locations and devices and substantially cuts data centre costs. View Composer builds (composes) VDI images from the master and clones. View Manager provides central VDI policy management.

Tommy Armstrong, VMware's senior desktop product marketing manager, says that changes can be made to the single golden master which, effectively, alter all the VDIs instantly. He added: "We would like to move to idea of building a VDI like a web page," meaning constructing/composing it in real time from elements stored on VMware Infrastructure servers.

VMware's virtual data centre initiative is intended to build these private clouds. Its vCloud initiative is to build VMware technology outside the data centre. Through View, users get their desktop from a private cloud with their personal desktop information stored in the clones.

Asked if there was a Decho - EMC's combination of Mozy cloud backup and Pi personal information management - connection with View, Goldfein's eyes gleamed as she said: "Could be."

The idea of a user jetting around the globe and then wanting to fire up their own desktop environment on a PC or thin client in an office they are visiting has an obvious resonance with EMC's Atmos cloud storage concept with its distribution of files around the globe to provide faster, more localised access.

High performance access to file storage

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