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2010: The year desktop virtualization happens

Brian Madden predicts 2010 will be a calm year for desktop virtualization since technical challenges have been overcome, and all we need to do is implement it. But is he right?

The first weeks in January are traditionally when everyone makes their predictions about what's going to happen in the coming year. I've actually been writing predictions for 2010 since 2008, so I'm excited that we'll finally find out whether they'll turn out to be right. I've said that various desktop virtualization technologies will mature in 2010, and I still believe we're 100% on track for everything to be ready this year.

As for specifics, there are two things that will happen in 2010. The first is the fact that this will be the year everyone starts thinking about client hypervisors, since Citrix and VMware will release theirs. This is also the year that Windows 7 will push customers to desktop virtualization. (Since there's no upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7, many people will take this opportunity to rethink their desktop architectures.)

2010's technical breakthroughs? Not many.
Apart from those fairly obvious predictions, one of the most interesting aspects of desktop virtualization in 2010 isn't so much about what's going to happen, but what's not going to happen. Specifically, 2010 isn't going to see any major technological breakthroughs in the desktop virtualization space.

Think about it: All of the really "hardcore" engineering problems have been solved. We have fast and cheap servers. We have great user environment management. We have fantastic remoting protocols. Single disk image management is as easy as its ever going to be. Windows 7 is here.

Since all of the components of desktop virtualization are out there now, 2010 isn't going to be about mind-blowing new products. Sure, we'll probably get Citrix XenDesktop 5 and VMware View 5, but these products aren't going to be ground-breakingly different than what's out now. Instead, this upcoming year will simply be a "fit-and-finish" year for the ISVs.

Vendor consolidation

Despite the lack of any huge new technologies, 2010 will probably see more vendor consolidation, which will end up affecting us. For example, it's a foregone conclusion in most peoples' minds that Cisco will buy EMC (and therefore VMware). And when this happens, you can bet that Citrix won't remain an independent company.

After all, we're slowly moving into the era of just a few IT supervendors -- Oracle, HP, IBM and Dell. Each of them has been on a buying spree in pursuit of a superportfolio of servers, clients, networking, consulting and cloud services. Once VMware is sucked up by Cisco, any one of the remaining companies would do well to buy Citrix.

How does this affect you?
The good news is that the lack of new technologies and continued consolidation is a great opportunity for customers. In fact, 2010 will be the year of the desktop virtualization customer. This will be when people really start to actually believe in these technologies and start to implement it en masse.

After all, the Windows operating system is complex and was never designed to be delivered to a PC any way other than booting from the local hard drive. The vendors in this market have done an amazing job providing tools to separate the management of Windows from the physical machines, so now it's our turn to actually go out and do it. And 2010 will be our year to do so.

Brian Madden, Independent Industry Analyst and Blogger
Brian Madden is known throughout the world as an opinionated, supertechnical, fiercely independent desktop virtualization expert. He has written several books and over 1,000 articles about desktop and application virtualization. Madden's blog,, receives millions of visitors per year and is a leading source for conversation, debate and discourse about the application and desktop virtualization industry. He is also the creator of BriForum, the premier independent application delivery technical conference.

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