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Thin clients catch VDI for VMware access

Remote PCs are challenging Citrix and WTS, claims IGEL

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Server-based computing schemes such as Citrix and Windows Terminal Server now have a serious rival in the shape of VDI, claimed German thin client developer IGEL Technology, as it added VDI support to its desktop devices.

VDI, or virtual device infrastructure, is a relatively new scheme pushed by VMware, among others. It runs your desktop remotely as a VMware virtual PC, and you log on as a thin client.

"The interest in VDI is across the board. Companies are looking at it as an alternative to server-based computing that gives you the best of both worlds," said Stephen Yeo, IGEL's chief worldwide marketeer.

According to Yeo, running PCs as remote virtual machines has a number of advantages over current server-based computing approaches, which in effect make the users share one big multi-user system.

"It's a PC, so the user can adjust their environment; plus, buggy software only crashes one virtual PC and you can move virtual PCs around more easily than you can move Citrix servers," he said.

"In addition, if a customer already has non-OEM licences for Windows XP, they can re-use those for VDI - in Citrix or WTS they'd need a CAL too. You do have to buy VMware though."

On the other hand, VDI does have disadvantages. In particular, Yeo said virtual PCs still need security software running in each VM, whereas in Citrix it's centralised, and each virtual PC consumes more hardware than a Citrix session.

VDI has also been a bit of a problem for thin clients, he explained: "To connect a thin client into the VMWare infrastructure you need a connection broker, it then goes off to find you a virtual PC when you log in."

He said a PC could download the connection broker client dynamically, or connect through a web browser, but with a thin client it needs to be built-in.

"Most of our customers are asking for the Leostream client, so we've embedded that. We are working on others," he added.

IGEL claimed that adding Leostream support means you can get a VDI client for as little as £162 plus VAT. It also has a VDI conversion card for PCs, so you can put an old PC back into use delivering a full VMware desktop - the £92 card replaces the PC's hard disk with Flash memory that contains IGEL's Linux-based thin client software. ®

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