IBM has announced it is working on technology that enables a desktop environment to be streamed from cloud computing infrastructures to a PC endpoint, enabling workers to access their corporate desktop anywhere and on any system.
Dubbed the Secure Enterprise Desktop, the technology is being demonstrated at the CeBIT show in Hanover this week. It is currently undergoing small-scale pilot tests, but IBM said it plans to make the service commercially available to customers later this year.
Secure Enterprise Desktop aims to cut costs by allowing employees to use their own PC endpoint in the office, at home or when travelling, or to implement a hot desk system, where workers utilise whichever PC is free when they are based in the office.
The system works by downloading a virtual PC image onto the endpoint, and keeping it synchronised with the user's master image back in the organisation's datacentre.
A key part of the Secure Enterprise Desktop is a USB device, the IBM Zone Trusted Information Channel (ZTIC), already used in secure online banking applications.
Each user boots their endpoint PC using the ZTIC, which contains its own kernel and bypasses any local operating system, to create a secure connection back to the organisation's cloud computing infrastructure.
Next, the ZTIC downloads a streaming hypervisor that begins to download and start up the user's work environment, fetching the operating system's disk blocks on demand only.
"That's how we can be pretty quickly up and running, even on a PC that has not been used with Secure Enterprise Desktop before," Michael Baentsch of IBM's Zurich research lab, one of the developers behind the project told V3.
However, Secure Enterprise Desktop maintains an encrypted cache on the endpoint PC's hard drive, so the bulk of the data only needs to be downloaded once.
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