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IBM teams up with Virtual Bridges and Canonical: Announces VLD

IBM, it would appear, have taken a swing at Microsoft’s huge jaw and teamed up with Virtual Bridges and Canonical to offer a Linux-based virtual desktop system. The three organisations announced the general availability (GA) of Virtual Linux Desktop (VLD) as an alternative to Microsoft’s desktop software.

The VLD runs everything from open standards-based email, office software, social networking, unified communication and any other software to any laptop, browser or mobile device from a virtual desktop login on a Linux-based server.

Jeff Smith, vice president of open source and Linux middleware for IBM spoke with online tech magazine LinuxInsider that “The solution is a virtual desktop that includes a collection of collaboration software from IBM’s Lotus organization. You get all the collaboration capability you would need for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and text; unified communications, things that allow you to connect voice, video and text oriented-collaboration; social networking things like blogs and wikis and, of course, tried and true things like e-mail, group calendaring and all that stuff.”

Smith said that the range of application available with VLD is a key element of the stack. “If you look up the cost, if it comes with all that stuff, particularly if you get it from Microsoft, all of it together represents a big cost … for the licenses for the software; the hardware required to run it, as well as the support required to maintain it,” he said

According to Smith VLD is based on Virtual Bridges technology that allows a user to take the desktop, client side portion of a software stack, substantiate it in a virtual system on a serve and then remote interface to any device that a user wants to use it.

“It’s called virtual ‘VDI’ (virtual desktop infrastructure). There’s been a lot of interest in VDI lately. It’s not a new concept from an innovation perspective, but a lot of people are realizing now that the advances in network bandwidth and server capability and virtualization allow us to do that now in ways that removed a lot of inhibitors that existed in the past,” he explained.

IBM claim that the savings for businesses using VLD as opposed to Microsoft Office could be as much as $800 per users. The company also claims that companies will save $358 on hardware because they won’t have to upgrade to support Vista of Office 2007.

IBM say that businesses will be able to boost their green credentials due to less power output. This will also save businesses around $40 to $145 per user due to power cost reductions, and a further $20 to $73 per users from reduced ir conditioning requirements.

“One of the reasons people will take a look at this is because the potential to save money is quite substantial. If you don’t have applications and data resident on the client end, and whatever client device you’re using acts like an intelligent network terminal, then the need for deskside support falls dramatically. That’s one of the most expensive things to provide in today’s world, particularly given how dispersed everyone is,” Smith said.

VLD will cost businesses $4,900 for a 1,000 user deployment according to IBM. The reason for the low cost is the Linux-based technology, Smith concluded.

Unlimited Virtualization from IBM and Windows

IBM are offering customers who buy its System x rack servers and Bladecenter blade servers the option of Microsoft’s Windows Datacenter, allowing for unlimited virtualization.

Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition (SE) can run on machines with up to four sockets and up to 32GB of main memory on x64-based servers – a more than suitable operating system for blades and most rack servers. Enterprise Edition (EE) gives you a bit more flexibility with up to eight sockets and potentially 2 terabyte’s of memory. SE allows just one virtual machine on a server, and EE allows four, so if you want more, you need to buy more Windows licenses.

Datacenter Edition scales up to 64 sockets for x64 servers and up to 2 terabyte’s, and allows unlimited virtual machines.

In October 2006, Window Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, allowed users to deploy an unlimited number of Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, or Datacenter Edition VM’s on their machines. Back then Datacenter Edition cost $2,999 per processor socket with no client access licenses (CALs), which cost the user $40 each time.

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Edition remains the same, price-wise, and still allows for unlimited virtualization. However, now Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor comes with the Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions, which means customers won’t have to buy VMware’s ESX server or Citrix Systems’ XenServer to do virtualization.

What this means is that you can afford to move from EE to Datacenter Edition on two and four socket blade servers, simplifying your software stack (all Windows), and get unlimited virtualization as well.

IBM Helping You Remember Stuff

Those clever folks at IBM have come up with something rather cool: ?Pensieve?. In a blatant nod to the Harry Potter memory machine, scientists have come up with a way to help you remember every face, name and phone number you encounter, by using data from your mobile devices to build and store connections from your day-to-day experiences.

Pensieve?s creators claim that the technology can actually recognise not only information, but also in what context it occurred ? mimicking the human mind?s association-based memory system. The tool is in the final stages of completion at IBM?s Israel-based lab.

The technology works by piecing together bits of data collected on devices you are already carrying. For example, you could meet a business owner, who may very well give you their business card. If you were to take a photo of the person , and then their card, Pensieve would link the two images together with time and location information ? from either your phone or another mobile device, such as a GPS ? to help you remember the details.

“This is like having a personal assistant for your memory,” IBM Haifa Research Lab Lead Researcher Dr. Yaakov Navon explained. “Our daily routines are overflowing with situations where we gain new information through meetings, advertisements, conferences, events, surfing the Web, or even window shopping. Instead of going home and using a general Web search to find that information, Pensieve helps the brain recall those everyday things you might normally forget.”

The software also interacts with your existing technology, such as phone, or computer-based calendar systems.

“This is where the real power of collaboration kicks in,” researcher Eran Belinsky commented. “You can recall the name of the person you met right before you entered a meeting by traversing a timeline of your experiences, or share a business trip with colleagues by creating a mashup that shows a map with an animation of your trail and the pictures you took in every location.”

If you ignore the technology, the actual act of taking photos and later reviewing the data could prove to be just as beneficial as te system itself.

“The extra effort to do all this and sync it with your computer later would definitely help one’s memory for the information improve,” said Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern University. “The difficulty is partly in making this extra effort in the first place.”

The biggest issue with Pensieve is that the user needs to take frequent proactive steps, such as photo-taking. One answer could be to use a camera in glasses Paller suggests.

“[The glasses] could be set up to snap a photo of whatever you’re looking at when you signal, say, by blinking your eyes,” Paller noted. “Later, you could rehearse your whole day and store all the most important bits of information.”