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IBM shrinks virtual desktop storage

Joins 3PAR and LeftHand Networks

IBM is adding a space-efficient virtual desktop image storage capability to its thin client Virtual Infrastructure Access (VIA) services today, as part of its addition of VMware virtual desktops to existing support for Windows, Unix, and Linux, and mainframe application access.

VIA, announced in February this year, is a managed or project service delivered by IBM Global Services, and not a product. Through a connection broker it provides access from a thin client to a whole spectrum of application and server environments. These do not have to change their existing interfaces, as the VIA technology carries out any necessary conversion work. IBM saw that the delivery of virtual desktops (VDIs) from a VMware virtualized server environment to its thin client devices - actual thin client hardware or PCs - was going to be hindered by the large storage requirements and time involved in creating and storing hundreds or thousands of VDIs for hundreds or thousands of thin clients.

It is reported that IBM Research has devised a Virtual Storage Optimizer (VSO) technology that can create new VDIs from a source VDI in a few minutes or less and use much less disk space to store them. IBM reckons VDI creation could take up to half and hour without using VSO and each new VDI image could require four times more disk space than a VSO-created VDI.

The reported IBM statement asserts: "The solution ... allows organizations to streamline operations by creating new desktop images in mere seconds or minutes, a process which previously could take up to 30 minutes - a 75 per cent reduction in the time required to create and deploy new virtual machines."

That '75 per cent' number seems interesting, and if we apply it to the 30 minutes term and subtract 75 per cent of that we're left with 7.5 minutes to create and deploy a virtual desktop machine. That doesn't seem particularly fast at all.

Both 3PAR and LeftHand Networks have VDI cloning or copying technology that provisions a new VDI from a source or gold VDI for the common data and creates the new data specific to the destination desktop. Such clones can be up to 90 per cent smaller than the gold VDI. Both supplier's products can then serve these new VDIs to remote desktops. 3PAR says it can store thousands of VDIs on its Inserve array and deliver then to client deskops in seconds.

IBM is not going to release VSO in product form.

A little more here. ®

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