VMware VDI to replace remote protocol with PC-over-IP

VMware plans to expand its desktop virtualization play with Teradici's PCoIP technology and "almost" demos the technology at VMworld

It's no secret that the virtualization industry is trying to move the IT world toward a virtual desktop environment. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) has been around in a number of different flavors for a while now, and it is slowly gaining traction. But one of the things holding VDI back is end-user acceptance, specifically around performance. If a virtual desktop is pushed down to an end-user and it doesn't live up to their usual physical desktop experiences, it will almost certainly fail.

VMware is attempting to address some of these performance issues with their strategic licensing agreement with a company called Teradici. Announced at last year's VMworld in Las Vegas, VMware and Teradici are working to build a software implementation of Teradici's PC-over-IP (PCoIP) display protocol technology, and to provide integration and interoperability with PCoIP hardware-based implementations as another step in its vClient Initiative. This PCoIP technology is said to enable VMware View to deliver the true PC experience that end-users are looking for, which includes high-resolution graphics and rich multimedia, as well as streaming movies and high-definition audio capabilities.

[ VMware execs say desktops will move to the cloud | However, InfoWorld's Randall C. Kennedy wishes VDI would please just go away. | Learn more about VMware's VDI move launching View 3 ]

VMware was expected to showcase this new technology at VMworld Europe 2009 as an alpha build of the software implementation. However, the demo that took place on stage was using Teradici's hardware version on a Workstation machine, not the software build that people were expecting to see operating against a virtual machine. While this point was missed on most of the audience, the demo was still well received as VMware demonstrated Google Earth and a 3-D CAD application that rocked the house.

However, at least one lucky VMworld Europe attendee was able to see the Alpha PCoIP software in full swing. Chris Wolf, a senior analyst with the Burton Group, recently wrote about what he saw at the conference, how the PCoIP software protocol really delivered.

According to Wolf, the PCoIP software implementation requires no GPU on the server, but that means you should expect to see additional CPU overhead on the system.

Wolf writes, "PCoIP uses what Teradici has coined Progressive Image Management. Progressive image management smoothes images on the client endpoint and maintains graphics rendering performance over low-latency, low-bandwidth connections. With the default install, PCoIP delivered smooth rendering of flash, streaming video, PDF viewing, PowerPoint editing and presentation viewing, and editing a heavily commented Word document."

Sounds good so far, doesn't it?

The goal here is for PCoIP to provide end-users with support across the WAN and LAN. Over the WAN, the intent is to support users with 150-250ms latency. Doing so, they should be able to provide users with basic flash, VoIP, remote printing, and local storage. Across the LAN, VMware expects to support both 2-D and 3-D use cases. The user should be able to receive the full, true PC experience, with multiple monitor support, 1,900-by-1,200 resolution, and full Flash support. And with the hardware brokering technology available, the full 3-D experience is also expected so that users can leverage full CAD/CAM, GIS, and rich video.

Wolf said that a beta product should be out soon, possibly within the next few months.

A software version of Teradici's hardware PCoIP solution could be just what VMware needs to push VMware View and its vClient solution further ahead in the desktop virtualization race.