when terminal/server is reinvented as desktop virtualization

Ever read an article that makes you kinda stop anything else you’re doing as you try to make sense of it? Then read it again, which doesn’t help…then read it in bits and pieces to see if you can make sense of the parts in order to tackle the whole? And then maybe still wonder what sort of crack the author is on? I had that this morning reading an eWeek article, Analysts Predict Death of Traditional Network Security. I guess there’s a reason I didn’t re-up to eWeek a few years ago. And it is just coincidence that the topic is de-perimeterization and mentions the Jericho Forum, I swear!

According to them, in the next five years the Internet will be the primary connectivity method for businesses, replacing their private network infrastructure as the number of mobile workers, contractors and other third-party users continues to grow.

…So the Internet is not already a primary connectivity method? I guess I underestimate the Frame Relay and dedicated links market dramatically!

One of the end results of the death of traditional network security will be a growth in desktop virtualization, Whiteley said.

Hey, that’s kinda cool to read. In fact, we’re right now doing some desktop virtualization for mobile employees, particularly developers offsite. They VPN into our network with a system, then Remote Desktop into a virtual machine on our network upon which they work. Odd…I never once thought of this approach as being part of de-perimeterization or the death of the nebulous “traditional network security.” It’s a way to avoid bandwidth restrictions and data egress.

Desktop virtualization allows a PC’s operating system and applications to execute in a secure area separate from the underlying hardware and software platform. Its security advantages have become a major selling point, as all a virtualized terminal can do is display information; if it is lost or stolen, no corporate data would likely be compromised since it wouldn’t be stored on the local hard drive.

And this is where we finally stop toeing the brakes and actually put some pressure down on the pedal. I don’t think the author was involved in something called terminal/server architecture before, since that’s what he decribed. He did not describe desktop virtualization. Maybe we’re seeing the bastardization of terms…which is unfortunate. There is a point to be made about moving to virtual desktop systems and also moving back to terminal/server setups, but it really has nothing to do with de-perimeterization or the use of the Internet to connect businesses. It has to do with support costs, desktop OS compliance activity, and data security. All of which are vague and ubiquitous enough to “support” pretty much any security theory or initiative. Part of my religion is predicated on you breathing regularly. If you breathe regularly or believe in breathing, then you support my religion. Um, no.

The adoption of PC virtualization would mean companies would no longer have to provision corporate machines to untrusted users, Lambert said. Desktop virtualization simply equals a more secure environment, she said.

Hrm, I don’t follow that reasoning at all. In fact, this is a three-punch combo in confusion. People provision computers to untrusted users? Desktop virtualization means you don’t have to provision anything now? And somehow that makes things all more secure? I’m feeling nauseous…

I think the author and the people quoted in the article (Forrester analysts) need to take a step back and iron out what they mean by desktop virtualization and how that compares to the age-old terminal/server environment, and move forward from there. But some of these conclusions just don’t follow, and the muddiness of the terms and logic makes the article a waste of time.