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Virtualization Is Coming to a Consumer Market Near You

Benefits of virtualization at home

Used in IT departments for a number of purposes, virtualization is starting to attract interest from home computer operators.  Perhaps you already use a virtualization application such as VirtualBox, VMWare, or XenSource at home so that you play with programs on different operating systems (OS) in your spare time.  Is this increasing interest in virtualization giving a peek into the direction that virtualization is heading-the consumer market?

Benefits of Virtualization at Home
Rob Williams
, an author on, introduces this idea very well. If you are a software or game developer who works from home, then you already have a pretty good understanding of the importance of virtualization.  You know that in order for you to test your software on various OS you need to virtualize your computer or you would have to have multiple computers-each with a different OS.

However, would the ordinary personal computer user benefit from what virtualization can offer?  Let's consider the average computer user.  That person probably has a smart phone, a digital camera, a laptop, a smart tablet, and an electronic reader in addition to a home PC.  Each of these devices comes with its own OS but what if you could virtualize those devices so that you could use one OS and one login for all of them?  Wouldn't that make life a little easier?  If you were out running an errand and needed to access something on your PC, you could use your phone to login to that PC; it would be like having your PC in the palm of your hand.

No doubt, you have had the experience of purchasing a new laptop or PC and then you discover that your printer is not compatible with the new OS.  Furthermore, the manufacturer of the printer does not make or offer a driver for that printer so that you can install it.  At this point, what do you do?  Do you throw out a perfectly working printer to purchase one that is compatible with your new OS?  If you virtualize that PC so that you can run the old OS on it as well as the new one, you can save that printer and the money you would spend on a new one.  Apply this concept to other devices that connect to your PC and you start realizing that there are many benefits that virtualization can bring to the average consumer.

Drawbacks of Consumer Virtualization Products
Cisco Systems, Inc. is already working on developing virtualization products for home computer users.  There is speculation that virtualization technologies could replace the normal PC with a thin client but there could be some drawbacks to this kind of switch. (If you are interested in learning more about how this may take place, visit Dell here.)

For one thing, if this were to occur, then the virtualization would be hosted by a provider and all data storage and programs would be offered by that provider, turning the home computer into something that resembles more a work computer.  Security concerns would undoubtedly rise from the public and new laws may even have to be created to protect the consumer against theft or fraud, since many people use their computers to store personal and financial information.  If a person were to change over to a new provider, how would they facilitate the move of their data to the new provider?

Another thing to consider is whether consumers are ready to get rid of their PCs and change to a thin client.  People like to have control over their personal information and it may be difficult to persuade consumers to abandon their physical PC for a hosted virtual machine instead.

Technology Constantly Evolves
We all know that technology is constantly changing and concepts that start out as solutions for IT departments eventually find their way into consumer hands.  Already, we see virtualization tools being offered to the private computer user and it seems only a matter of time before virtualization companies offer their services to the average consumer.

More Stories By Brian Jensen

Brian Jensen works with Dell. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with his family. He has a passion for learning and writing about all things technology.

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