Virtualisation and Lenovo

Virtual Computer are to optimise their NxTop client virtualisation and management solution to operate with select models of Lenovo laptops and desktops PC platforms. For their part, Lenovo will allow customers to have Virtual Computer’s NxTop client loaded onto their custom images, direct from the factory. This announcement was interesting for organisations considering changing their PC management model to use a client hypervisor. It not only promotes confidence in client hypervisors supporting a wider range of devices, it also demonstrates that device vendors themselves are willing to embrace client hypervisors as a deployment technology.

Less than a week later, Citrix’s Simon Crosby disapproved and said that analysts didn’t fully understand the fact that “XenClient is the industry’s only enterprise-class type 1 client hypervisor“. A bold statement indeed. What perhaps is more useful here about Simon’s statement is that it was about the hypervisor, not the hypervisor as a PC management solution.

How will other hardware vendors respond to Virtual Computer’s Lenovo collaboration?

We have discussed what Client Hypervisors are in an earlier blog however here is a recap.

There are two types of client hypervisors. Client hypervisors that rely on an operating system (such as Microsoft’s Windows) being present are typically referred to as ‘type 2′ client hypervisors. ‘Type 1′ on the other hand, also known as ‘bare metal client hypervisors’, and are installed directly onto the hardware. Type 1 hypervisors offer business greater control over the end-device, and improved performance and security for virtual machines running on that device.  Type 1 hypervisors have tended to have more specific hardware requirements than Type 2 hypervisors.

A Type 1 (T1) client hypervisor enables centralisation but it doesn’t run in the data centre, it runs on the user’s device. Thus allowing image centralisation like hosted desktops, but without the large infrastructure costs and the need for every user  to work on-line. This allows for reduced and more effective administration (one image, multiple devices); it also enables remote backup and recovery of user data because user data can be separated from the operating system environment. T1 client hypervisors can use resources of the local device, they can be used off-line and also allow users access to multiple workspaces from the same device.

Client virtualisation solutions have been available for a number years, typically as a solution for secure environments when running different systems on same device. More recently vendors, such as Virtual Computer, have used a T1 client hypervisor as a tool to offer organisations an improved PC management experience.

Virtual Computer NXtop solution is made up of two components – the NxTop Engine is the client hypervisor and NxTop Center is the management service. Together the Engine and the Management service provide the components for the NxTop Enterprise architecture, Virtual Computer’s  PC management solution. The Virtual Computer hypervisor has the widest hardware support of the current vendors and supports Intel and AMD chipsets and Intel, NVIDIA or ATI graphics. The Nxtop Center does require a Microsoft 2008R2 server as virtual images are created and maintained using Microsoft’s Hyper-V. NxTop Centre is the component that the other vendors don’t have – with that, you are able to create, deploy and manage virtual machines to users, backup and recover user data, manage peripheral access, update the engine and enable/disable access to a device.

The T1 client hypervisor itself is the means of  hosting an image on a device.  To be part of a solution that offers “better” ideally that secure environment giving access to a central management service for the distributed devices to connect to. That management service needs to not only be able to distribute images, but track the versioning, updating and control of them too. It also needs to be able to do the same with the user’s settings and data.

Having a T1 client hypervisor offers opportunity to sell not only the device, but the ability to manage that device. This offers an interesting opportunity not only for businesses, but for the general consumer market – sell a device with OS and data support; the ability to move data to new device making upgrades to newer model easier and the ability to offer additional services.

At the moment, the only vendor offering an enterprise ready PC management solution based on T1 client hypervisor is Virtual Computer. The partnership with Lenovo is likely first in number of  announcements.  Nxtop is Enterprise ready, with such deals enterprises will be better ready for NxTop.


One thought on “Virtualisation and Lenovo

  1. Citrix appear to be very quick to belittle challenging vendors such as virtual Computer. They make a bold claim but fail to mention there own very limited hardware compatibility list.

    In fact in recent testing none of the computers in my estate of 450 laptops would support XenClient yet they nearly all supported NxTop.

    I look forward to virtual computers supporting vmware as a deployment platform.

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