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I'm thinking once again about the desktop virtualization in our company.

Actually there are 2 known ways doing this, first one is to have users' "desktops" on the terminal server and let they use i.e. RDP.

The second one is possible because we already have VMWare ACE and a fast enough removable SSDs (i.e. Verbatim 64GB SSD for the expresscard) which can host a whole desktop and run it anywhere with some hardware abstraction like VMWare.

However both ways are pretty slow for the modern office software, especially for the modern IDEs. Multimedia is another big problem. I'm afraid noone would switch to the virtual desktop if he can't play even youtube videos. VMWare is a little bit better than RDP but still has a big problems playing videos, also it has enough of the mouse lags in the fullscreen which could be a very annoying for the everyday use as a primary system.

Is there any other software I don't know? Or any other way?

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I think a good question would be: What problem are you trying to solve? You mention multimedia concerns. If this is a required feature of your environment, why are you considering desktop virtualization? What do you hope to gain and what can you not live without? –  Kevin Kuphal Jun 2 '09 at 3:47
    
I included a "light" (FLV/DVD) multimedia in the required features because I'm thinking about the solution for everyone in the company not for a people who use only a couple of office programs. At the present time, watching movies is not only an entertainment. –  disserman Jun 4 '09 at 18:53

10 Answers 10

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are two other alternatives ...

One is to use virtualized PCs ... like ClearCube or PanoLogic .. there are devices at the desk which pipe the peripheral connections back to a central infrastructure and connect them to a "PC". The alternatives are discussed in this comment to a similar question.

Another is to use Active Directory roaming profiles and automated software deployment in Active Directory. When a user logs into a computer their software and settings are setup on the computer. Roaming profiles are easy, automated software deployment is hard.

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Thanks for the idea about using roaming profiles, I'll think about it. However I'm afraid it will take a lot of time to login for the remote user especially if he use slow data connection i.e. EDGE. In our country 3G is still not everywhere. –  disserman Jun 2 '09 at 1:21
    
If you use GPO to control what is in the profile (i.e no temp files, no saving to desktop, etc.) roaming profiles work reasonably well. For laptop users the software is static, so you should be OK. But slow clients and slow connections are what Terminal Services is designed to support! –  tomjedrz Jun 2 '09 at 4:04
    
As far as I got, roaming profiles have own problems: they don't replicate Local Settings folder, many programs write there as well. When working with a roaming profile offline, all changes are discarded when connecting next time to AD. Am I wrong? –  disserman Jun 2 '09 at 9:09

Citrix's XenDesktop and VMware's View are much more comprehensive desktop virtualisation (VDI) solutions. The former of which uses it's own connection broker and ICA for delivery, which in a lot of cases can prove more responsive than RDP.

You should carefully consider how you approach it though. Especially if you are looking to implement a solution without the above, using only the hardware and licenses you presently have.

There are a lot of hidden pitfalls and one of the most common misconceptions is that it would be easier/cheaper to manage 5/50/500 desktops in one place rather than have them on different boxes, when the complexity of such a setup often proves otherwise.

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I might also add Qumranet's Solid Ice product: qumranet.com/products-and-solutions –  mrTomahawk Jun 4 '09 at 16:22
    
The answer to your complexity issue is to use provisioning software such as Citrix Provisioning Server to provide golden-image management of your desktops. Combine with XenApp for application deployment, and if you need to have better windows profile management, something like Appsense Environment Manager. –  Daniel Lawson Jun 6 '09 at 22:38

Check out Citrix's solution called XenDesktop. They have been the leader in application virtualization/remote access for over a decade and have recently moved into the desktop virtualization space.

The technology is similar (ICA protocol) and if you do a quick search you'll find tons of articles and supporting documentation. They also came out with HDX (i think High Definition eXperience) to enable high-end multimedia capabilities (3D rendering, HD streaming, etc)... check it out.

http://www.citrix.com/english/ps2/products/product.asp?contentID=163057

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If your users never take their computers away (ie if they're not laptops), then thin terminals will do fine. Actually might be great, with centralized administration and versioning. Rolling out new images couldn't be easier.

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If the stimulus fairy paid us a visit (it didn't) we planned on rolling out thin clients that use RDP to talk to actual virtual desktops running in VMware. This would be very handy for our general computing lab environments (we're a .edu), and would have allowed flash-video to work. This approach is pretty hardware intensive, though.

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Winterm thin clients really look & work like a fat client from the user's perspective. The problem with responsiveness only arises if you have too many for your server platform to deal with. Don't expect a magic result after switching to thin client. You'll ultimately still have to have the processor grunt & memory somewhere. Abstracting your processing away from the desktop doesn't make its requirements go away.

With that said, there are many instances where thin clients are an advantage over fat clients but you'd have to weigh that up for yourself. Just don't be fooled by the marketing guys (I have seen too many sites which were gaga over thin client one week only to rip out their winterms & replace them with fat clients the next).

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Native VHD boot should be the way to go. However, we will have to wait until Windows 7 releases.

Native VHD boot, in case if anyone doesn't know, is the way to boot your computer right to the VHD file without having to boot the hosting OS first. Another words, once it boots, no middle layer laying in between, and it uses full hardware capacity, including multimedia devices.

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The other end of the equation is the device sitting on the desk. I'd recommend Wyse thinclients here - they have great hardware options and featuresets. The S-series models boot to login in about 5 seconds, and the V-series have decent hardware options like dual DVI output and wireless.

One of your requirements was multimedia and otherwise video intensive operations (IDEs) - the Wyse clients combined with an ICA session from Citrix XenApp (formerly Presentation Server) or XenDesktop can do multimedia offload to the device for good quality movie playback (Speedscreen Multimedia Acceleration). Progressive SpeedScreen in ICA helps with highly detailed IDE windows and so on - one use case is for CAD/CAM software over ICA.

http://www.wyse.com/Fulfillment/downloads/Wyse_ThinOS.pdf

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For VDI, with proper multimedia experience, I don't think anything can beat RHEV-Desktop. http://www.redhat.com/virtualization/rhev/desktop/

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Every time I've been exposed to Sun's Sun Ray software I've been impressed. They've been doing the virtual desktop thing for a very, very long time. Works great even at remote sites.

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