Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution providers are pitching VDI as the next big cost-savings initiative for IT departments. In addition, VDI promises to eliminate many of the desktop security, deployment, and management headaches that desktop administrators are forced to deal with on a regular basis.
However, those cost savings and management capabilities may not always turn out as promised. VDI must overcome its own set of challenges, and these same obstacles can threaten to eliminate the very benefits that VDI claims to offer.
Kaviza has set out to deliver on those VDI benefits, and the company seems to be off to a good start. This year, the company has been recognized as an award-winning solution at two of the largest virtualization trade shows, winning "Best of Synergy 2010" at the Citrix Synergy show in May and a "Best of VMworld 2010" award in the Desktop Virtualization category at VMworld in August.
The company just announced version 3.1 of its Kaviza VDI-in-a-box appliance, a follow-up to its 3.0 version released only two months ago. The solution allows companies to run Windows images across multiple desktop systems served across a grid of inexpensive commodity servers.
Kaviza provides an all-in-one VDI solution that claims to be the cost-conscious VDI offering -- making VDI less expensive to acquire than a traditional PC. It provides built-in high availability and doesn't require any shared storage. The company also claims it is extremely easy to use; the user just has to drop the appliance on to a hypervisor platform of choice, and it's ready to go.
"What I like is anyone packaging a desktop virtualization solution that's simple and turnkey," said Dave Bartoletti, senior analyst at the Taneja Group. "VMware's strategy in the desktop virtualization space is somewhat muddled at the moment, and Citrix is making great strides to fill in the gaps for desktop administrators; however, both vendors still offer a rather large menu of solutions -- hosted, streaming, endpoint virtualization, etc. -- and they approach the customer with 'whatever you want, we've got it. Now, what do you want?'"
Bartoletti asserted he much prefers that Kaviza says, "This is what you need. Period."
With the 3.1 release, Kaviza has expanded its hypervisor support. Customers can choose to deploy Kaviza on Citrix XenServer, VMware ESX, or ESXi 3.5, or they may choose the newly certified VMware ESX 4.1 hypervisor (with Microsoft Hyper-V support expected in the near future).
Other important improvements made in VDI-in-a-box 3.1 include full support for 64-bit Windows 7 virtual desktops; support for employee authentication via Smart Cards, including the DOD's Common Access Card (CAC); support for non-Windows-based Active Directory systems, and the ability to optimize storage and achieve higher desktop density by using thin-cloning technology with the free Citrix XenServer.
But the most interesting and compelling addition to the 3.1 release has to be its out-of-the-box support for Citrix Receiver. This ability allows users to access an enterprise VDI system across a number of different devices. By leveraging the power of Citrix Receiver, Kaviza is able to immediately provide access to a range of mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android phones, as well as a variety of thin clients, traditional PCs and Mac desktops and laptops.
The added support for Citrix Receiver probably had something to do with Citrix's investment of an undisclosed sum of money in Kaviza back in April.
The desktop virtualization space needs a headstrong vendor that believes their approach is best, and one that understands the daily lives of desktop administrators, Bartoletti said. Kaviza believes it is that player. Its VDI-in-a-box appliance is aimed at small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and designed to fit departmental budgets and desktop IT expertise.