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Network World Blog Post Critique

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Mitchell Ashley blogs over at Network World about Doug Brown’s interview with Dr. Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Technical Fellow in the Platform and Services group. Mitchell Ashley begins his blog entry by stating that “this is a valuable podcast to listen to if you want to get a basic understanding of issues around virtualization”, I couldn’t agree more. However the rest of this blog entry contains a few statements that I either don’t agree with or don’t understand.

In the second paragraph Mitchell Ashley writes about the debate regarding OS vs. hypervisor and states:

Selecting your hypervisor technology and virtualization management systems is now the first decision to make, rather than the OS

While the hypervisor is unique in being software that runs underneath the OS, I take exception with this statement that selecting the hypervisor is more important than selecting the OS. The purpose of IT, first and foremost, is to provide users with the applications they need to do their work. Therefore selecting which OS to use is critical – it must be an OS that supports these applications and facilitates their use. Selecting the hypervisor, on the other hand, is a technicality, like selecting which hardware to use. It may be an important technicality, but it’s a technicality none-the-less. After all, the users could care less which hypervisor you use as long as their applications work properly.

In the last paragraph of the blog entry Mitchell Ashley writes:

By managing client options (as Mark describes it), I believe this plays well in to Citrix’ strategy with Xen, virtual desktop images can be centrally managed and distributed to client machines, creating a virtual desktop operating on whatever computer that end user is using. This also plays well into the evolution of Terminal Server and Citrix servers into a virtualized world.

Unfortunately I’m unable to fathom what Mitchell Ashley is trying to say here. Is he saying that virtualization is good for Citrix because it can be used for desktops as well? If so, what does that have to do with Microsoft and this interview? Also, while desktop virtualization is part of Citrix’ roadmap, they are currently only selling a server virtualization product, XenServer, which will directly compete with Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Their future XenDesktop product will not operate “on whatever computer that end user is using” because it doesn’t stream the VM, it remotes the UI. Moreover, XenDesktop will be distinct from Citrix Presentation Server and not an evolution of it. This is unlike PowerTerm WebConnect which integrates both virtual desktops and Terminal Services into a single product.

Maybe all that Mitchell Ashley is trying to say is that there is a great future in store for desktop virtualization. That is a statement I can certainly agree with.

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Dan Shappir is responsible for all aspects of product design, software development and maintenance of the Ericom's product lines. Mr. Shappir joined Ericom in 2001 and brings over 15 years experience in computer programming, and in the design and architecture of software products. Mr. Shappir holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science (with honors) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel and an M.Sc. in Computer Science (with honors) from Tel Aviv University, Israel. | Ericom Software
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