IBM’s (s ibm) new Virtual Desktop for Smart Business is a product that offers users secure access to their personal desktops from anywhere. While companies such as VMware (s vmw) and Citrix (s ctxs) also offer similar virtual desktop functionality, they can be costly and somewhat difficult to use. IBM’s solution has self-configuring, self-managing and self-protecting features that should enable easy installation, and it can be administered via a web interface.
The product is based on Virtual Bridges’ VERDE, and enables both Windows (s msft) and Linux desktops to be hosted and managed centrally. It can be used while offline; when the Internet connection is restored, the desktop state will be synced.
While virtual desktop technology like this can obviously be useful for mobility, helping remote workers who need to access their desktops while they’re away from the office, it can also be handy for a number of other uses. For example, virtual desktops can help to:
- Manage migration between software versions
- Lower the support cost of managing PC desktops
- Reduce lag when accessing remote applications (It can be much faster to access a virtual desktop of a machine that’s co-located with the app server than to connect through a VPN.)
- Help developers who need to maintain different environments (multiple desktop OSes or versions of IE, for example)
Virtual desktops can be useful in healthcare settings, for example, in helping doctors and nurses to access their own desktops while they’re out on the wards, while CMI, an IBM channel partner, says it is getting interest in the product from casinos, who find the additional security the technology offers appealing.
IBM Virtual Desktop for Smart Business is available now and costs $150 per user per year as a pre-integrated, ready-to-run software package with a one-year contract. It will be sold through IBM’s channel partners, not by IBM itself.