Virtualization is a major component of cloud computing, but the primary focus has been on virtualized server instances running on cloud providers such as Amazon EC2.
There is little argument that applications running in the cloud offer many attractive advantages, but ultimately users need to be able to access their data from any device and the data itself must maintain the highest levels of synchronization and integrity.
One of the big challenges is the fact that users are comfortable with fat applications (generally meaning, not browser-based) for a large number of tasks. And while Google Docs and the like are great supplements for large apps like Microsoft Office, they've yet to supplant them completely.
To avoid disrupting users too much, and avoiding the necessity of rewriting applications to be browser-based, many IT organizations turned to desktop virtualization tools to solve the problem.
Desktop virtualization was supposed to solve one the biggest headaches in IT: managing and securing corporate desktops in a more effective way. From IT's perspective, it's much quicker and easier to manage all the company's virtual desktops than physical distributed desktops. When it comes time to roll out a software update, they can automatically deploy it to all virtual desktops at once, rather than going machine-to-machine and uploading the software manually.
There are many options when it comes to desktop virtualization, but generally the "solution" most people think of is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
VDI has a number of strengths such as cost reduction and management efficiency as well as a number of drawbacks, such as a lack of offline capabilities. But the core problem is that VDI puts an entire desktop that's not built for the cloud into the cloud. It just doesn't make sense to take your fat desktop and OS and stick it right onto the cloud. … Read more