Virtualisation will become the most disruptive technology to face the PC in a decade, according to research by Gartner.
It reports that PC virtualisation technology will revolutionise the enterprise desktop by decoupling PC hardware and software, allowing multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single desktop.
Gartner says virtualisation will enable IS departments to implement more efficient IT support policies, achieve more cost-effective outsourcing contracts for PC support, and drive total cost of ownership savings in PC deployment.
It also says that virtualisation will dramatically redefine the PC industry, removing product differentiation, and forcing suppliers to compete purely on service and price.
Brian Gammage, vice-president at Gartner, said, “PC virtualisation will achieve a broad appeal over the next five years.
"The technology has been used in niche applications for a number of years, but increased industry support from major players, such as Intel and Microsoft, will rapidly move it to the mainstream.
"This will have significant ramifications for the PC hardware, software and wider ICT services industries.”
Gartner sees PC virtualisation as providing a short cut to deployment best practices for users.
Users would be provided with two different environments: one that is unlocked for users to add devices and to install any software they choose, and a fully locked-down, highly managed, and well-understood environment, to which the IS organisation can securely deploy critical business applications.
The IS department would retain full control over network security, while users can install and run new applications that may enhance their effectiveness, without increasing the burden on already beleaguered support staff.
According to Gartner, IS departments which are successful in the deployment of virtualisation technology are also likely to swiftly review both IT services and outsourcing procedures.
PC virtualisation will reportedly assist in drawing clear lines between what is and is not managed by the IS organisation. Gartner says the potentially huge benefits for users will create equally significant implications for the industry.
“Software suppliers will need to become much more flexible in order to compete in this new landscape. Changes in the way software is licensed are inevitable, as PC virtualisation software will challenge current one-licence-per-user ratio.
"In the short term, some will see this as an opportunity to sell more licences: however, this will be harmful in the long run. Few software suppliers have woken up to this deployment scenario, and there is currently little consensus on how they might respond. This is a wake-up call,” says Gammage.
Gartner adds that hardware suppliers and component manufacturers will also be affected, and predicts that the ultimate new standard for client computing will be a virtual platform based on software, not hardware.
Written by Computing SA staff