Virtualization may lead to employee hardware ownership


IT managers at this conference say virtualizing desktops -- and to a lesser extent shifting ownership to employees -- might make sense. A virtual PC environment could be more secure and less susceptible to conflicts and problems that arise after road warriors install their own productivity applications or games. They also believe they might save on software licensing costs if applications can be delivered as needed.

"I can see a drive toward virtual desktops," said Ben Davis, director of networks at Matria Healthcare Inc. in Marietta, Ga., who added that virtual desktops would give IT departments tighter control over software. Today, he said, if an employee has a PC at home and access to the corporate network, "they basically have access to all of the network. With a virtual desktop, you can restrict that access."

But Davis isn't convinced that the technology available today matches the vision. "All I'm hearing is manufacturer hype," he said. "It's got to mature some."

Thomas Bittman, a Gartner analyst, believes many companies would rather manage a virtual environment on an employee's laptop and not worry about all the other applications that may have been loaded on a system. "It's a lot harder to lock down the hardware then it is a virtual machine," he said.

Bittman also believes that once a company makes the move to a virtual environment, it can explore the idea of giving workers ownership of their PCs.