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Some remaining thoughts on VDI

There’s a lot of virtual desktop news these days, and before too much time passes, I want to share some tidbits on VDI that I picked up this week and that had never occurred to me before.

  1. VDI can save you money on software licenses. At least, that’s what I hear from Jeff Cunningham, a network administrator at the Agricultural and Resource Economics department at the University of Maryland, who implemented about 70 virtual desktops for faculty, staff and graduate students. For instance, an individual license for the data analysis and statistical software package Stata runs about $700. In contrast, a 10-seat network license costs the university $2,000, for a savings of $5,000, and the budget to deliver interesting software to a greater number of students.
  2. Thin clients can withstand a long power outage. Kunal Patel, the IT director at Nina Plastics, whose VDI project I wrote about earlier this week, told me that during a recent power outage, the company’s regular desktops drained their APC battery backups in less than 10 minutes. Their Pano Logic thin clients, on the other hand, stayed on for four hours. In a similar vein,  the University of Maryland’s Cunningham stuck a kilowatt meter on a bank of five Pano devices and a bank of five regular desktops and discovered that the Pano devices consumed one-fourth the power of the regular desktops.
  3. Some IT managers are skeptical of thin clients’ supposed cost advantages. As an example, check out Basilm’s comments on the Server Virtualization Blog. What about you, dear Server Virtualization Blog readers? Have you done the math on VDI and thin clients? What’s the verdict?
  4. Big companies need big security. With their strong security and compliance needs, verticals like finance, health care and government are a natural fit for VDI. But in order for them to adopt it, the VDI community needs to support biometric authentication mechanisms, such as fingerprint readers and face recognition software.

That’s all for now, folks. Brace yourself for a lot of news on virtual desktops. Things are about to get interesting :)

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Alex, I did not get the first point in your post. The option of having 10 seat network license in place of 10 individual licenses is available even if you have physical desktops. So why do you say this is a cost saving because of virtualization? Thanks, - Madhukar
Alex- I just got around to reading the reply to my message referenced in this blog. Sorry to say, it sounds exactly like the pitch we've heard from virtually every thin client vendor. Our use case / cost justification / ROI was simple and straight forward on the server side. Unfortunately, the case quickly breaks down on the client side. We are probably like most organizations. We have to deal with existing client hardware (both PC and some thin clients), licensing issues from Mr. Softy, "green initiatives" from management and stagnant or shrinking internal budgets. As a result of some digging, we found a solution that fits our needs for now. The product is called Thin Desktop from a company called Thinlaunch Software. It fits our requirements for now and helped us eliminate the GPO headaches we encontered. You may want to take a look and let you readers know. keep up the great posts and critical eye!
The challenge with Pano is the limited desktop performance - video and graphics. While better than plain RDP, it is a compromised experience compared to a PC at the user desk. There is another solution that provides and un-compromised user experience and that is PC-over-IP (PCoIP) technology. To be truly cost effective a Zero client needs to be able to handle any user type in an enterprise - from terminal/task workers, mainstream office users and power users that may require full DVI resolutions and full frame rate 3D graphics. This is what PCoIP delivers. Check out this Zero Client that is an all-in-one display that Samsung just announced (SyncMaster 930ND) it supports VMware View (aka VDI) and PCoIP to be forward compatible when Vmware VIew integrates PCoIP technology (see vmware announcement with Teradici at the Sept08 Vmworld) Here is a demo of the user performance including HD video and 3D graphics. For full disclosure, I am the Director of Business Development at Teradici. For more info go to