Virtualization meets blades

Steve Hamm

Call me boring, but two of my favorite corporate technologies are virtualization software and blade computers. Thanks to virtualization and blades, business people get a lot more computing for their money. So, imagine my excitement when IBM, VMware, and Citrix blended the two to create a virtual desktop PC. Mainframe meets modern times.

Here's how it works. IBM has a product called BladeCenter, a chassis packed with up to 14 blade servers. Add VMware virtualization software, which allows information tech managers to run multiple applications on a single server. Then add Citrix thin-client software, which allows computer users to tap into applications on a server just as conveniently as they could into a PC sitting on their desk. They can use all of their normal applications, plus print. Wrap it all together and you can run 200 virtual PCs on a BladeCenter chassis at a cost of about $3000 per blade. IBM delivers this as a hosted service. Not only do you save money on computer purchases, but the setup is much easier to administer and much more secure from virus attacks. IBM claims it will save corporations 60% off the cost of doing the same amount of computing with traditional PCs. "The user gets the full desktop experience, and the CEO gets much better utilization, better security, and cheaper administration," says Doug Balog, vice president for BladeCenter.

HP pioneered the idea of using blades as out-of-sight PCs, but, so far, it's a one-blade-per-user setup--no virtualization.

I've been a fan of thin-client computing since the Web made it new again in the mid-1990s. Now, thanks to blades and virtualization, it looks like there are some more good reasons to hide computers away in closets.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.