While end users used to go to their office for the fastest Internet connections and best e-mail systems, they are now telling us they get cheaper services online and better connectivity from home, Intel’s enterprise architect told a Canadian audience on Thursday.
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Speaking at the chipmaker’s Premier IT Professionals event, John Dunlop tackled the topic of emerging client technologies.
“Consumer market innovation beats the enterprise,” said Dunlop.
Part of the problem, according to Dunlop, is that providers are targeting the consumer market. “We are starting to see new capabilities emerge … you want to take advantage of it, but it has no hooks to be able to scale it to the enterprise level,” he said.
“It’s definitely a big challenge for IT as we are being perceived as being behind the curve. Certainly, we can all whine about security, regulatory compliance, privacy concerns — obviously very important topics — but the challenge seems to get worse every year,” said Dunlop.
The definition of mobility is also changing, according to Dunlop. “It used to be you give someone a notebook and they can go anywhere and they can use VPN to get back to their apps and data. Nowadays, it seems the definition of mobility is the ability to roam between devices,” he said.
A cold war continues to exist between IT and end users, Dunlop pointed out. “We are all in it together, we are all trying to make the business successful, but at the end of the day … IT pros and end users have completely different perspectives,” he said.
IT’s traditional one-size-fits-all solution drives down costs, protects the environment and increases data security. But standardization doesn’t accommodate new devices such as personal laptops and iPhones, he pointed out.
“We are struggling to figure out how to reconcile new challenges with our existing model. The answer is, we need a new model,” he said.
Virtualization is the driver for that new computing model in the desktop environment, according to Dunlop, and client virtualization, which brings benefits of centralized manageability and agility, is the key.
“I’m talking about the abstraction of our services, getting those layers abstracted from one another so you can abstract the OS from the hardware, you can abstract the applications from the OS, you can abstract the data from the platform,” said Dunlop.
But while virtualization ROI is “a slam dunk” in the server space, client virtualization has always been a tough sell, he pointed out.
Intel’s own IT group implemented a program called the Dynamic Virtual Client, a term borrowed from one of the company’s product strategies. Virtual containers in particular are the “ultimate direction” Intel is heading towards, he said.
A locally installed OS with application virtualization is one way to abstract one layer and might serve as a good example for mobile computing, said Dunlop. Streamed OS and applications is a delivery mechanism for desktop usages, which Intel is applying to shared PCs and training rooms, he pointed out.
But the virtual container solution is where things are heading, he said. “That is the notion of having a client native hypervisor sitting right on the hardware that allows you to have one or more containers,” said Dunlop.
The architecture moving forward is a hardware layer with Vpro technology, and top of that, a client native hypervisor. “This isn’t science fiction anymore,” said Dunlop.
Intel has strategic partnerships with Citrix and VMware and plans to introduce client native hypervisors in the first half of 2010, Dunlop announced. “We’ve been waiting a long time to transition to this sort of model where we can provide those virtual machines or containers directly on top of the hypervisors layer without a host OS,” he said.
Dynamic Virtual Client (DVC) and vPro have historically been different, but complimentary, ways of managing clients, Dunlop explained. “You can look at it like vPro is managing the hardware and DVC is managing the software,” he said.
Today, we are seeing more DVC capabilities taking advantage of vPro technology, but going forward, vPro is going to evolve and provide more DVC capabilities “or at least that framework where those hypervisors can run in a consistent way,” he said.
The focus is on moving from clients to containers. “We’ve been working to try to provide a more containerized solution, even though it is based on the hardware model in those areas, so we can start focusing on the manageability and getting IT to learn new tricks,” he said.
Results include a reduction in the footprint IT has to manage by separating a user’s personal persona from their corporate persona, as well as a reduction in footprint by managing fewer images, he explained.
Today, IT delivers a PC to the end user, but in the future, this will become virtualized or abstracted and the PC or client becomes a service we will deliver on demand from a central management capability, he said.
Established in 2005, the Intel Premier IT Professional program brings Intel’s own IT group out from behind the server rooms and data centres to engage in discussions with other IT professionals, said Elaine Mah, Canadian business marketing manager at Intel.
The half-day event, a partnership between Intel’s IT group and marketing organization, presents lectures on enterprise IT management and best practices as well as insight into the latest Intel technologies. Presentation content is available in the event archives section of ipip.intel.com.