APPLIED BROADLY, application virtualization has completely changed the way Web developers
at NPC International, the world’s larg-
est Pizza Hut franchisee, approach
their work, says Jon Brisbin, portal webmaster for the Overland Park, Kan., company.
“The whole point of using virtualization is to get the flexibility of ‘ Well, I can do whatever I want,’
and to me that makes application virtualization really about cloud-enabled services,” Brisbin says.
“That’s because I couldn’t care less about what my applications are running on and how services are
provided and the specifics of the data center — how things are connected. None of that matters to
me, because the application is what’s important.”
NPC uses VMware’s vFabric tc Server, acquired from Java framework developer SpringSource in
August 2009, to run applications on VMware virtual machines in an internal private cloud.
“Before, when we had an application we needed to develop, it would have to perform a specific
function, and we needed to make sure we had all the services available to provide that one function.
For example, if we had a Web application that updated data in Postgres and AS/400, the only services
we could connect to both places and pull data. There was nothing else — no other services, no other
way to provide data,” Brisbin says.
“Now we have all these other services that are running within our infrastructure that allow us to approach this same question — How do we get data from one side to the other, or make an AS/400 talk
to a Postgres server? — with several different answers, depending on the demands of the moment,”
he adds. “This opens up a whole new way of thinking for us.”
“We need to be able to untie the
tight relationship that exists today
between applications, the operating
system and hardware. Otherwise,
we can’t move applications and data
around. So we have to move up the
layers — application, desktop and,
now, mobile,” Viarengo says.
Indeed, the mobile realm is the next
frontier for VMware, says Srinivas
Krishnamurti, the company’s senior
director of mobile solutions.
For one thing, as mobile phones
morph into powerful computing
devices with fast CPUs and a lot
of memory, they’re becoming the
next-generation PCs, Krishnamurti
says. Second, market watchers expect
annual mobile phone sales to exceed
PC sales within two years. “As more
data, applications and services get
consumed on mobile phones, that
makes it an important endpoint to
address,” he says.
VMware has been actively promot-
ing the idea of mobile virtualization
for more than two years, since its
However, even as VMware touts mobile virtu-
alization, Gartner’s Wolf cautions that no major
carrier has committed to supporting VMware MVP.
“One of the concerns that I’ve heard about mobile
platforms is providers want to ensure they’re not leaving
money on the table because they support this technology,” he says. Right now, users might feel inconvenienced
because they have to carry two phones. But that doesn’t
necessarily bother the carriers, because it means they
sell more phones. “They aren’t necessarily motivated to
support a hypervisor that would have them selling one less
— Be TH SCHulTz
run in a virtualized environment, to bring new life into
them, or they will have to be deployed down to the device,
if the device can actually run the application.”
Application virtualization also enables more granular
use cases by making it possible to support just about any
device users bring in. “If somebody comes in with a device
that runs Windows 7 and you want to provision an appli-
cation built for XP, you can virtualize that application and
run it on the desktop,” Viarengo says.
In fact, the corporate app could run on an Apple
iPhone or iPad, an Android smartphone or any
mobile device, he adds.
Viarengo paints this scenario: A user plugs an
iPad into the network, and VMware deposits an
agent there that inspects the device; determines
whether it is secure, somewhat secure or unsecure; and authenticates the user accordingly. It
will know “This is Mary, and based on IT policy,
she’s entitled to these five enterprise applications
and access to this type of data,” he explains. Since Mary
is using an iPad, the agent delivers the client that allows
her to view her desktop, which IT hosts in the data center.
Later, if Mary logs in from, say, a Sony Vaio laptop and
wants access to a legacy application, the agent will pull
down that application and run it virtually on that local
desktop. If Mary next taps into the network using an
Android smartphone, the agent will deliver an application
to run virtually on that device.