Client Virtualization Grows as Admins Lock Down

Virtualization on the server has gotten the lion’s share of attention, but Intel and Citrix have noted that there is growing interest and use of virtualization on the client. The two firms, already allies in virtualization, have updated a two-year-old survey that shows increasing use of virtualization technologies on the desktop.

The survey expanded to 1,100 medium and large-scale IT organizations to determine their number of client models and deployment strategies. There has been a minor increase in the number types of deployments, which include terminal services, hosted services, application streaming and operating system streaming.

Among the individual services, some are growing much faster than others, notably app streaming, OS streaming and client-side virtual containers. The latter allows for a virtual OS to be hosted inside another, so apps can be run without requiring the whole OS to be installed on the client computer.

While the trends are certainly good news for vendors like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Citrix who stand to benefit from growth of virtualization on the client side, the figures signal that admins are looking to exert more control over what goes on the client, Intel said.

“The idea behind these new alternative models is to continue to give the control that the administrator wants,” said Clyde Hedrick, manager of client virtualization in the Business Computing Group at Intel. “It gives them control and mobility, but also give it more centralized control and ease in maintaining corporate images, so they get the best of both worlds.”

Intel and Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) found Intel and Citrix found application streaming growth to be flat, year over year. Instead of installing apps on the client, they are streamed down to the client from a central server. In 2007, 30 percent of those surveyed were using it, and that was expected to go to 36 percent in 2008.

Instead, app streaming only grew one percentage point. The two firms remain optimistic that it will hit 40 percent next year. Hedrick added that app streaming is generally used in conjunction with another model, like terminal services or OS streaming.

OS streaming, sending an operating system down to bare metal clients, saw better growth. It went from 15 percent of firms surveyed using it to 20 percent, and that’s expected to grow to 27 percent next year. As a percentage of devices using OS streaming, it jumped from three percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2008, and is projected to hit 18 percent in 2010.

Client-based virtual containers weren’t even on the radar in 2007, but in 2008, Intel and Citrix found that 20 percent of those surveyed used virtual containers.

That number is expected to jump to 29 percent by next year. As a percentage of devices, it will grow even faster, from 4 percent of devices using it in 2008 to 8 percent by 2010, they said.

Overall, server-based streaming will continue as a means of deployment because of a “desire for flexibility and control of IT assets like they are used to with server-based computing,” Hedrick said.

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