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Centralized Desktop Consolidation using Virtualization on Servers

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030030D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Jul-23
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Jul-23
Document File: 5 page(s) / 289K

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This Article discusses the problem of current desktop implementation and a possible solution to consolidate. Many existing desktop implementations are more or less FAT client for several reasons, where one of them is the high integration of multiple applications required to operate. Another main reason for fat client installations is the fact of an outdated legacy operating system such as Windows NT**2 or OS/2****. Many of the existing approaches to consolidate application on central servers struggle with this very problem based on the technical design and level of virtualisation. The approach here is, to convert such clients simply "as-is" to a server and provide the user access to this frozen and virtualized client. This, of course, requires a different level of virtualisation at the server at a typical desktop hardware level instead of application level. Also the solution is required to support many different host (server) platforms as well as almost all client operating systems including DOS, Windows**, OS/2**** and others.

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Centralized Desktop Consolidation using Virtualization on Servers


    Before putting a context around the topic, a definition of "Desktop Virtualisation" needs to be made. There are two components to consider, which make two building blocks of this solution.

Virtualisation: With companies such as VMWare and Connectix (bought by Microsoft** end of 2003) virtualizing of Intel based hardware became a known technology to the market. The two flavors of implementation known so far are :

  "Workstation" type, where a desktop operating system is virtualized on top of another desktop operating system (like Windows NT** running on top of Novell ***Linux Desktop). "Server" type, where an environment on a larger server system (multi-processor big Intel iron) provides capability of multiple Server operating system run next to each other (like several Windows NT** server installation run on top of VMWare on one single physical machine ). Application publishing: Mostly known brand providing users access to remote applications nowadays is probably Citrix* with Metaframe*. Applications, more specifically Windows** applications get installed on one or more servers (making it a serverfarm) in multi-user mode of Windows** and a proprietary client with a network protocol (ICA) is used to provide those applications to the user. Thin Clients: Thin clients so far have been used to provide fixed function, mostly browser based, kiosk-type access to a few applications.

    While in those traditional ideas, virtualization products are only used to consolidate and centralize servers on larger servers or run some local workstation solutions and Terminal Services are only used to share and publish on the application layer, the new idea combines those two and adds technical (and financial) benefits of Thin Clients, while giving the users the ability to access an entire machine (even so, it's only a virtual machine).

2. Implementation

    Starting from a traditional end user workstation, the operating system and application stack of a existing workstation is taken entirely to a virtual PC (one instance out of many on a server) on a central server and executed there. Based on sufficiently fast and reliable protocols, the Input /Output (Keyboard, Mouse, Video) is routed back to a displaying interface at the users new work environment . Unlike existing publishing, the level is taken from application layer, where several users share a common application, down the operating system (respectively virtual hardware) layer. This allows to run an entire desktop environment including all application inter-dependencies on a virtual hardware. The virtualization of the desktop hardware will also enable older environments (such as WinNT** or OS/2****) solving issues of driver support. Security breaches are minimized due to a highly secured and isolated environment on the server. Accessibility and lock-down functionality are increased as well. Creating or re-creating of new / mo...