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What is software virtualization? Try it

Altiris Software Virtualization Solution officially ships tomorrow. We've been looking it over for a while now, most recently at FOSE, where GCN saw fit to give it a Best of Show award.

SVS could potentially have a big impact on the way admins deploy Windows applications because it doesn't require program installation in the traditional sense. But what it does do exactly can be difficult to explain, as we've now realized in our efforts to talk about the Best of FOSE winners in print, online and over on WFED Federal News Radio.

Quick-and-dirty: With SVS, Windows programs don't go through a traditional Windows install routine, mucking up the Registry, loading DLLs, etc. The programs are bundled up neatly then pushed out to clients where they run in virtual envelopes--fully functional but never actually touching the underlying Windows OS. Admins can turn on and off a user's copy of Excel, for instance, or users can run various versions of Office, Acrobat, or another Windows application, if necessary.

Still not clear on the concept? No problem. Altiris' segment manager Christine Ewing was just here and she told us that tomorrow, when the enterprise product ships, Altiris will make available a free, downloadable client version that you'll be able to get at sites such as Download.com and Tucows. It won't have any of the central management features (like the ability to "reset"--rather than reinstall--an application that gives you a problem), but it will allow you to virtualize programs instead of installing them, so you can get an idea of what's possible.

Important note: You can only virtualize new apps. You won't be able to virtualize software you already have loaded (unless you uninstall it and start over, which colleagues of mine have started to do). Still, it's worth trying out. Do you have a PC at home already burdened with resident applications? Before you load TurboTax for your last-minute tax filing, try virtualizing it.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Mar 22, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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