Altiris Inc.' Software Virtualization Solution: Software you don't have to load

A trend is emerging at the GCN offices. It seems little time passes before a company from Utah'not Silicon Valley'comes by with some cool new technology. Most recently the company was Lindon, Utah-based Altiris Inc., which is fairly well-known for its IT management software and partnerships with government IT contractors such as Northrop Grumman and Unisys.

Last month Altiris showed GCN a preview of its new Software Virtualization Solution, which has been in beta deployments for several months and ships in November. In the same way system virtualization decouples an operating system from the underlying hardware, Altiris officials say SVS can decouple application software from the operating system.

Market segment manager Rich Bentley demonstrated how a virtual copy of Microsoft Office could be 'turned on' for a client user instead of installed, without touching the underlying OS configuration. If the end user encounters a problem with a program, the IT manager can simply reset it.

How does it work? Simply put, everything runs in a hidden partition, including a shadow Registry, away from the OS. An Altiris filter driver mediates between the OS and the virtual space, directing resources as needed.

As an IT management tool, SVS has significant possibilities, and the company says it integrates with other client management tools. But it's not a cross-platform interoperability solution'that is, a way of running software on any OS. In fact, Altiris SVS only decouples Windows applications from Windows.

For the vast majority of IT managers, this is all they need to know. When it comes out, SVS will be available for $29 per node. If our brief look at the technology is any indicator, SVS could be one of those disruptive technologies we hear so much about.

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