Software firm 1E is looking to enable enterprise bring your own device schemes with a platform that enables workers to download and run a corporate-managed virtual desktop on a PC or Mac, from anywhere the worker is located.
MyWorkNow, set to be available from the end of October, enables users to choose their own Windows desktop or laptop or a Mac system for work purposes, with their business applications running inside a virtual Windows PC instance created by the IT department.
Slated as an alternative to virtual desktop infrastructure deployments, which typically require substantial data centre infrastructure to operate, MyWorkNow offers a solution that can be used when workers are offline, as well as enabling organisations to provision contract workers with a virtual machine that can be deleted after their contract period expires.
While 1E has largely been associated with management tools, such as those designed to control power use, the firm sees its real aim as reducing the cost of running Windows for businesses, according to Simon Rust, 1E product manager for MyWorkNow.
"Over the last two or three years we have been building out user empowerment technology, such as the Shopping enterprise app store, and MyWorkNow is the next step on from that, in terms of enabling us to deliver applications in an automated manner in a Windows desktop to users wherever in the world they are," he said.
A key feature for enterprise customers is that MyWorkNow can stream a virtual desktop to a worker's computer over the corporate LAN or remotely, using technology that enables them to start using the virtual machine within minutes while it continues to download.
Also key for IT departments is that the virtual machines can be managed using the same Active Directory infrastructure as physical machines that remain on the corporate network, according to 1E.
The technology underpinning the platform uses Oracle VirtualBox to handle the virtualisation, with a MyWorkNow client wrapped around it. This makes use of a technology 1E dubs FastBoot to download the data blocks of the virtual machine image in the optimal order to allow it to boot up as soon as possible, within "12 to 15 minutes" over a typical domestic broadband connection, according to Rust.
The virtual machines themselves are created in the standard Windows Imaging Format (WIM) and stored either on a network server or on any cloud-based storage service for delivery to remote users. The image only needs to be downloaded once, when the user is provisioned with a virtual machine according to which group or role they occupy.
According to Rust, all communication is secured using an SSL virtual private network connection and the virtual machine image on the endpoint Mac or PC is itself encrypted to protect applications and data inside it.
IT administrators can also remotely deactivate or wipe a virtual machine image, using 1E's ActiveEfficiency.com cloud service, without touching any of the personal data stored on the user's computer.
To deploy MyWorkNow, customers need a 1E virtual appliance in their data centre, plus storage for the virtual machine WIMs. On the endpoint side, users need a Mac or PC capable of running VirtualBox, which typically calls for a 1.3GHz processor or above, 4GB memory and 30GB of available disk space.
Licensing is being finalised now, but is likely to be about $15 (£10) per user per month when MyWorkNow ships, according to Rust.
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