Virtualisation is poised to become the most disruptive PC technology in a decade, according to Gartner.
The analyst group has predicted that PC virtualisation technology - which allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single desktop - will revolutionise the enterprise desktop by decoupling PC hardware and software.
As a result the technology could enable IT departments to implement more efficient support policies, more cost-effective outsourcing contracts for PC support, and drive total cost of ownership savings in PC deployment.
"PC virtualisation will achieve broad appeal over the next five years," said Brian Gammage, vice president at Gartner, in a statement.
"The technology has been used in niche applications for a number of years, but increased industry support from major players such as Intel and Microsoft will rapidly move it to the mainstream."
Virtualisation could allow users to have two operating environments. One would be unlocked for users to do what they want, such as adding devices and installing software.
Alongside would be a fully locked-down, highly managed, and well-understood environment to which the organisation can securely deploy critical business applications.
As a result IT departments can reclaim full control over network security, while users can install applications that may enhance their effectiveness and efficiency without increasing the burden on support staff.
Virtualisation could also help accommodate the trend towards outsourcing and associated service-level agreements, as the effective boundary around the PC's locked-down business environment would clarify support agreements and service expectations.
But Gartner warned that PC virtualisation software still needed further development to overcome usability and security issues, and will require changes in PC software licensing.
Software vendors will also need to become much more flexible in order to compete in this new landscape, cautioned Gammage.
"Changes in the way software is licensed are inevitable, as PC virtualisation software will challenge [the] current one-licence-per-user ratio," he said.
"In the short term, some will see this as an opportunity to sell more licences; however, this will be harmful in the long run. Few software vendors have woken up to this deployment scenario and there is currently little consensus on how they might respond. This is a wake-up call."
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