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Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure
There are very few sure things in life, but odds certainly favor the continued strong growth of the virtualized desktop infrastructure, which in many cases is an offshoot of a company’s existing private cloud. Already somewhat of a commodity, commercial VDI solutions come in many shapes and sizes, including fat-, thin- and zero-client solutions running a variety of protocols from familiar providers. The trend shows no signs of slowing.
In a nutshell, the virtual desktop infrastructure is one that stores one or more instances of Linux, Windows or another desktop operating system on a hypervisor-equipped server such as one running Microsoft’s Hyper-V or VMware’s ESX. Thin clients, computers or smartphones running thin-client software connect to the hypervisor and open one of the operating system images. Depending on the implementation, the hypervisor delivers either pixel-level changes or the entire desktop environment and applications to the client system.
A number of vendors pitch off-the-shelf solutions that can be sold for a relatively small up-front cost plus monthly maintenance. One example is Zenith Infotech and its SmartStyle Architecture, a node-based private cloud that employs one or more server nodes that virtualize the client operating system for IP-based delivery to new or existing client nodes of any kind. Benefits include remote control, centralized administration and realtime backup. Up-front costs to the reseller total around $2,000; per-user recurring revenue can be whatever the market will bear. Options include server redundancy, remote administration and centralized data snapshot.
Also in the game is Hewlett-Packard, which sent the CRN Test Center a VDI configuration that might be typical of one found in a small office or department. It consisted of a ProLiant ML-350 dual-Xeon server running VMware ESXi Server 4.1 along with a 64-bit Atom-based t5740 thin-client device (see the full review on page 26). With this HP solution, resellers have the flexibility to deploy one or a combination of sessionbroker clients from Microsoft (RDP), Citrix (XenDesktop), VMware (VMware View), or HP’s own TeemTalk terminal emulation client for accessing legacy platforms. Server options include stand-alone, blade or rack-mount hardware, each with the usual complement of failover and backup options.
When considering a VDI solution, VARs need to evaluate a customer’s infrastructure, such as existing servers, networking, hypervisor, remote office connections and the speed of its Internet connection.