IBM today launched a Virtual Desktop for Smart Business push -- which allows Windows or Linux desktops to be hosted and managed centrally. The VAR Guy is intrigued. But the Big Blue effort sounds suspiciously like a previous initiative called the IBM Client for Smart Work package, launched in 2009 with Virtual Bridges and Canonical (the Ubuntu Linux advocate). So how does IBM's latest virtual desktop push differ from earlier efforts? Here's the update.

First, today's news: IBM's Virtual Desktop for Smart Business is positioned as a workforce mobility offering that provides anytime, anywhere access to personal desktops from mobile devices -- including tablets, netbooks, laptops and thin clients, according to IBM. The Virtual Desktop for Smart Business, which includes VERDE software from Virtual Bridges, can be deployed on a customer's own infrastructure or through a Business Partner "private cloud" hosted environment, IBM says.

Familiar Tune?

Hmmm... Sounds unique. But IBM has played this card before. Rewind to 2008 and 2009...
  • December 2008: IBM discloses a virtual desktop initiative with Canonical and Virtual Bridges, introducing a per-user price point of $49.
  • May 2009: More than a dozen new VARs and integrators sign up to support Virtual Bridges’ software.
  • July 2009: IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical introduce the latest version of their combined efforts.
So what's different this time around? For starters IBM doesn't seem to mention the Canonical relationship in this latest Virtual Desktop for Smart Business Effort. Also, the Virtual Bridges relationship is somewhat downplayed in today's IBM announcement. And IBM seems to be shifting the conversation away from traditional PC virtualization toward virtualized desktop access on mobile devices. The solution costs about $150 per desktop per year.

Checking Facts

Still, The VAR Guy has some lingering questions...
  • How does the new Virtual Desktop for Smart Business differ from IBM Client for Smart Work? The VAR Guy will be sure to ask IBM during a scheduled briefing on January 25.
  • Is IBM still working closely with Canonical on virtual desktops and Linux virtualization? The VAR Guy has reached out to Canonical for comment. (Documentation from Virtual Bridges does manage Ubuntu, Novell and Red Hat Linux support.)
In the meantime channel partners can find more information about IBM Virtual Desktop for Smart Business here.

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