VMware Keeps On Truckin' With Mobile VDI Demo Center

VMware used its VMware Partner Exchange, held this week in Las Vegas, to unveil the VMware Express, a mobile VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) demo center built into an 18-wheeler.

The VMware Express semi-tractor and trailer is being leased by VMware for one year, and is slated to travel across the country to help VMware and its solution providers introduce VDI to potential customers.

The VMware Express is likely to show up anywhere to push the VMware virtual desktop message, said Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president of worldwide field operations at VMware.

"We may even show up in front of a Citrix or a Microsoft event," Eschenbach said. "You'll never know where. Unless you're a partner, and then you'll know through our partner portal."

VMware installed a couple of large-screen flat-panel TVs on the side of the trailer which can be used with a podium to demonstrate its VDI technology to the masses before they start filtering inside.

Those screens will likely also be fired up outside Microsoft, Citrix, and maybe even Oracle customer and partner events to evangelize VMware's message to the masses of potential converts.

After walking up the stairs, a quick turn to the right takes one into a fully-functioning conference room complete with conference table, chairs, flat-screen TV, and whiteboard.

What, no fridge, you ask? Actually, there is one, inside the cabinet at the very right of the photograph.

The bulk of the open area inside the trailer is taken up by five demo stations, including four that are focused on VMware View, the company's virtual desktop platform. They include stations that show "follow-me" virtual desktops that can be accessed anywhere, VMware's implementation of PC-over-IP (PCoIP) technology, Windows 7 migration to virtual desktops, and the View user experience.

One of the station's is focused on VMware's vSphere and vCenter cloud computing platform.

Much of the equipment and applications in the demo stations is provided by VMware technology partners looking to be a part of potential customers' VDI implementations.

Management of virtual infrastructures is key to making sure users get their jobs done without being concerned about whether they are working on physical or virtual servers, desktops, or platforms.

Mac Binesh, senior technical marketing manager at VMware, demonstrated an IT administrator's ability to manage VMware's vSphere application using a $29 client running on an Apple iPhone. The client is available from thin client hardware and software developer Wyse Technology.

Binesh also showed how VMware's VDI works with PCoIP (PC-over-IP)to allow customers to run their virtual desktop PCs from any device.

One of the devices demonstrated was this Samsung PCoIP Integrated All-in-One Monitor, which is a flat-screen panel with a built-in PCoIP chip.

When connected to the internet and a wireless keyboard and mouse, it can provide users with their full desktop, including any USB devices, video and HD audio, over a standard IP network from a PCoIP-enabled host without the need for a separate PC or thin client.

The Samsung device is currently available with a price of $299.

At this station, Binesh demonstrated how a user with a smart card could fire up his or her virtual desktop at one station, do some work, close the desktop, move to another station, and then pull up his or her desktop and continue working from the point at which it was last shut down.

Binesh said a potential application for this technology is in the medical field where doctors can move from room to room and access their virtual desktops from anywhere.

Companies can configure the virtual desktops based on their corporate policies for such things as automatically logging-out out at a certain time or enabling specific features if the user logs in remotely, he said.

At this station, VMware can demonstrate various aspects of the user experience that users can expect from their virtual desktops.

Virtual desktops can be configured in many different ways according to budget, security requirements, bandwidth requirements, security requirements, and so on. VMware uses this demo station to give an idea of the kind of user experience customers might see.

However, uses have to remember that this is a demonstration in a controlled environment. Potential customers need to ask the right questions to see how the technology might run in their own environments.

VMware's VDI runs on the company's vSphere virtualization platform, with much of the management done using VMware vCenter.

The final station in the VMware Express helps VMware and its partners show potential customers the underlying virtualization technology before making any decision on which platform to adopt.

At the back of the trailer is the heart of the mobile demo lab, consisting of a couple racks full of servers, storage, and networking gear from such technology partners as EMC, Cisco, NetApp, and Xsigo which is used to run all the demos.

Michael Adams, senior product marketing manager at VMware, said the VMware Express currently has two racks installed, and is getting a third rack in the near future.

Adams also said there is about five miles worth of Cisco cabling installed under the floor of the mobile demo lab.