Kaviza’s VDI-in-a-Box, a plug-and-play virtual desktop system that has been gaining traction, enables just about anyone (not necessarily an IT specialist) to get a deployment up and running for a small or midsize business. Kaviza’s truly is an automated, turnkey way to do it; users install the software on a commodity server, and the software finds all the system nodes automatically.
Citrix, the world’s second-largest VDI provider (behind only Hewlett-Pacakrd[sic]), needed the IT that Kaviza brought to the table because it had not previously addressed the SMB space with a purpose-built VDI offering. Most of Citrix’s customers are large enterprises.
When Kaviza is running, the virtual desktop runs in its own browser-type window with all the application functionality needed. Little or no latency is apparent. Users can continue to use their local applications as normal. Read Frank Ohlhorst’s product review here.
Kaviza One of First to Do VDI on iPads
Four-year-old Kaviza, with its VDI-in-Box product, was one of the first to provide VDI support for iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones running on a data center hypervisor—Citrix Xen or VMware ESX 4.1.
Cameron Sturdevant presents 10 tips to tune up Windows 7 VMs to run as virtual desktops.
Interesting – Cisco hardware with virtual desktops embedded?
In a nutshell, Cisco will embed Citrix’s XenDesktop in its desktop virtualization offering, which is part of the company’s unified computing effort. The Cisco Desktop Virtualization Solution will include Citrix’s XenDesktop, FlexCast and HDX technology. The Cisco-Citrix combination will be available from channel partners Cisco blog, statement, Citrix blog. Simply put, Citrix will ride along as Cisco’s Unified Computing System architecture gains steam.
Cameron Sturdevant lists 9 points to keep in mind when comparing virtual desktop hypervisors.
I start by identifying what will be required of the desktops, what sort of hardware (client and server) will be required to support the requirements, and then I dive into the murky, swirling world of licensing:
1. License costs
In addition to the “three C’s” one of the most important testing criteria is licensing costs. None of the competing vendors make it easy to do an apples-to-apples comparison, so you’ll need to do some noodling to get a price per-desktop, per-year figure. It makes a difference how many years you include in your calculations. I suggest looking at a minimum of three and a maximum of five years, depending on your current physical desktop or laptop formula. Speaking of physical systems, you should factor in the costs of the user devices on which the remote virtual desktops will be hosted.
Where the return on investments for server virtualization is tied to the number of physical servers replaced, the benefits of thin computing are related to the workstation count. As such, the advantages of desktop virtualization scale more linearly, and are applicable to all – even the smallest SMBs.
I am evaluating VMware View for a SMB client, and it looks like an ideal choice for their situation:
- A small business with 75 employees, total.
- 60 of those are agents in a call center.
- The agents have access to a very limited set of applications: Internet Explorer, Outlook and Excel, and a customer account management tool developed in-house.
- Agent desktops are very tightly controlled, with very limited permissions. They don’t even have permissions sufficient to install Windows Updates.
- All of the agent PCs are 5 – 7 year old Dell PCs, well out of warranty,and due for replacement.
- The agents swap desks and rearrange fairly frequently, but their PCs are interchangeable.
- They already use roaming profiles and mounted My Documents and Desktops for the agents.
Given that the desktops are all due for replacement, and how tightly the desktop environment is controlled, virtual desktops are the ideal replacement for 60 individual desktops.
With a single virtual desktop template for the agents, when the company needs to update their customer management application, roll out patches, or make some other change to the desktops, they simply apply it to the View template, update the snapshot, and then have the agents restart their sessions as needed.
All of the aging desktops can be replaced with cheaper thin clients, which will greatly reduce noise and heat in their call center. Thin clients may not be much cheaper than new base-model desktops, but they will last longer with a lower failure rate.
The biggest hurdle will be redirecting the trickle expense of desktop replacement into the one-time purchases of a server powerful enough to run View, and the appropriate VMware licenses.