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Rackspace Hosting is launching a Rackspace hosted virtual
desktop platform, enabling companies to gain the benefits of centralized
infrastructure and data but without the capital investment,  and enabling resellers to offer virtual
desktop solutions to their end-user customers.

Rackspace’s Chris Zagorski, director of Enterprise Product
Development, told Channel Insider that the adoption of mobile devices such as
smartphones and tablets, coupled with the adoption of cloud computing, have led
the demand by companies to access their desktop information from whatever
device they are using at the moment.

For example, Rackspace’s own senior vice president of sales
carries an iPad with him when he travels and would prefer to leave his laptop
behind. With a virtual desktop capability, this executive can access his
Windows desktop and PowerPoint slides from his iPad wherever he goes.

The Rackspace virtual desktop platform is enabled through a
partnership with virtualization vendor Citrix
The hosting and SaaS vendor announced the platform at the Citrix Summit
2011 in San Francisco
, May 23.

The solution lets customers and partners to host virtual desktops
on either dedicated and/or cloud solutions, Rackspace said. Partners can bundle
in additional applications and services to create a custom solution for end
customers. Vertical markets could include healthcare and finance – both industries
where security is essential and where users may need to access data from a
variety of devices.

Rackspace notes that industry analyst firm
Gartner expects mainstream adoption of virtual desktops to take place in 2012
through 2014, with 70 million users by 2014.

“We’re tapping our vast community of partners and their
networks to provide customers with a hosted virtual desktop platform that
offers them choices,” said Odus Wittenburg, vice president of enterprise
solutions for Rackspace, in a statement.

Rackspace and Citrix will launch a hosted virtual
desktop demo environment to enable customers and partners to test the
performance of the solution.

Rackspace is also partnering with NetApp, Akami and Riverbed
in order to address concerns over storage and network performance over the
cloud. For instance, when thousands of users of virtual desktop all boot up at
the same time it causes a heavy i/o load. Rackspace’s partnership with NetApp
includes NetApp’s i/o caching to address that issue. Akami’s technology
provides IP acceleration by optimizing traffic to take the fastest route
possible over the internet. Riverbed provides devices that perform compression
and deduplication optimization. These technologies are optional add-ons to the
virtual desktop service offered by Rackspace.

Prices range in the mid-$20 per user per month to the
mid-$40 per user per month. One Rackspace partner, already up and running with
the services is Desktone which offers a starting price of $1 per user per day.