Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Seminar

Last week I attended a seminar featuring VMware and Wyse pitching their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. (Is it just me or does VMware's site seldom render properly in Firefox?)

The Wyse rep passed around the Wyse S10 pictured at left. It lists for $299, "runs BSD" (called "ThinOS"), and features a 450 MHz AMD Geode CPU. Although it has USB ports you can't use them for thumb drives or CD-ROM drives. (More powerful units support those devices.) It has a PPTP client with support for SSL VPNs on the product roadmap. Also on the roadmap is 802.1X, PoE, and wireless support. The S10 is basically a box to access remote desktops using RDP, ICA, or a Leostream connection broker. The box can be managed remotely, and can have its firmware flashed remotely.

This is the future of "business computing." It may also be the future of non-power-user consumer computing, at least for people with modest, office-like (email, Web, etc.) needs. The local hardware will be nothing more than a window (pun intended) to remote desktops. I imagine people might want local storage, but most of it will be stored remotely.

I have to start imagining how to monitor this sort of architecture. I guess we'll spend far more time watching data centers and hardly any time watching end nodes?

Update: I forgot to mention that I believe at some point ISPs will replace their cable modems with these devices. Power users will still be able to use "dumb" cable modems or just avoid the thin client features in their new ISP platform. I also think some hardware vendor will package this thin client into a LCD screen, like the iMac.

In general, this sort of architecture will make it easy for smart PDAs to gain access to the same information I might want on my laptop or desktop. When metropolitan wireless is ubiquitous, we won't have to worry as much about synchronization issues either. Fun!

4 comments:

LonerVamp said...

Yeah, people like to think dumb terminals are going away, but honestly, I think terminals will continue to be used, only with something like VMWare. We are already using VMs for many remote users and even some internal users already, but they connect to them via their own systems, not stripped down Citrix-like components.

But the talk is there! I wonder how mobility will fight against this, however? Less laptops?

jtroyer at vmware said...

VMware is treating both managed client desktops (locked down, rights managed) and virtual/centralized desktops holistically. Interestingly, the drivers for both don't seem to be cost -- instead it's regulation, security, and business continuity. I'd also expect to see more multiple desktop setups (my normal laptop OS + a secure virtualized machine, either on the client or remote).

(Richard, VMware.com has a known issue with its stylesheets. Hitting control-0 or reducing your font size will usually work with rendering problems. This is not exclusive to Linux, but fonts and resolutions with Linux users evidently expose the problem more frequently.)

Anonymous said...

I just came back from a Sun multi-level security conference, and they ended up touting a solution similar to this (albiet, based on Tarantella acquired protocol 'AIP') they call Sun Global Dekstop. They have a Sun Ray model that does have the LCD screen integrated, as well as dual-head displays. The pricing seems to be very similar to the Wyse solution. Bandwidth requirements around 300M, I think they said, but the demo for the product was not very performant over my 54M wireless connection.

In their case, they have physical servers (Windows RDP, X11, etc), backed by a "display server" (the SGD server), that transmitted "important display updates" to Java webtops and Thin Clients. So I guess we now have "hardware accelerated VNC".

Richard Bejtlich said...

I should have mentioned that I've used the sort of systems I described above, in the form of the Sun Ray 170.