The move could give employees the freedom to choose their own laptop, while IT departments keep control over the corporate environment, according to VMware.
Announced at the VMworld Europe 2009 conference, the VMware Client Virtualisation Platform (CVP) is a new offering that will form part of the VMware View suite of products. It builds on the vClient initiative announced in 2008, using vPro technology to provide management and security for virtual clients running on endpoint systems.
Paul Maritz, VMware president and chief executive, claimed that the industry is too focused on providing devices instead of enabling end users to do their job.
"We need to create an environment tailored to the user, available on any device. Devices come and go, and the plumbing should be able to take care of this," he said.
VMware CVP, set to ship in the second half of 2009, enables firms to package a standard desktop environment and run it on a desktop or laptop that has Intel's vPro technology built in.
"A bare-metal hypervisor can wall it off from everything else on that machine, while the back end can migrate down any data for that end user and replicate changes back," said Maritz.
Greg Bryant, vice president of Intel's Business Client group, believes that the integration allows for greater security in corporate laptops.
"With vPro, you can use the hardware to confirm that a virtual image is the one you want running, enforce isolation, and perform out-of-band management to access the device, wake it up and deliver any updates," he said.
It delivers the benefits of central management, but without any trade-offs for mobility, according to Bryant, and will make client virtualisation a mainstream technology.
The solution is similar to an initiative Intel announced with Citrix in January, but Jocelyn Goldfein, vice president of VMware's Desktop Business Unit, said it was not a response to any rival product.
"I think we have the most valuable proposition for client virtualisation. We have an extremely mature seventh-generation virtual stack," she said.
Enterprise virtual clients can be provisioned remotely if necessary, according to Goldfein, although she conceded that the initial download would be a heavy multi-gigabyte transfer. However, future updates, including patches and changes to policy settings, would only require any differences to be transmitted.
Maritz said that the concept of a corporate virtual client could usher in what he called "bring your own PC".
"Employees could be given an allowance to purchase any laptop they choose, but your IT department provides the environment you have to use," he said.
Goldfein added that powerful enough endpoint systems could run more than one virtual client, enabling users to operate an environment of their own concurrently with their corporate one, but with complete isolation between the two.
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