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Thin Client/VDI Platforms

The OEM/Embedded Solutions group has developed the ZC115 zero client platform for use in Beatty vBeacen virtual computer environments.

Devolution of Personal Computersand the Rise of VDI

We are approaching the end of the PC-era. The discussion about the personal computer being dead and how to best approach the post-PC era has become a dynamic topic. There are two driving forces: hosted applications and adoption of mobile computing devices.

The desktop is devolving—it is shifting from physical PCs with traditional operating systems to less powerful edge devices with minimal or no operating system. Since pre-Y2K, ISVs have attempted to virtualize the desktop through server based computing (SBC) or as it’s known today, VDI. Aside from general improvements and enhancements, the difference between SBC and VDI is more marketing rather than actual technology. In a sense, even with the ISV’s latest offerings, we are where we started.

Hosted applications or VDI is a technology that has evolved from Microsoft Terminal Services. Although VDI’s capabilities have become feature-reach and highly capable since the technology was launched pre-Y2K, at the core it is still pre-Y2K technology that has been pieced together to give us VDI as we know it. Today’s VDI technology scales poorly; it becomes complex, costly, and typically unstable.

Eliminating the Costs and Overhead of Supporting PCs

While PCs offer a rich end-user experience, they also provide challenges associated with management and security. In an attempt to reduce the management complexity, many organizations began to evaluate VDI as an alternative. However, many found that VDI is not the compute-panacea as advertised and fails to meet the complex requirements of today’s compute-environment which typically requires application interoperation, telephony integration, video and desktops that are location aware and available on a variety of devices.

Although it is technically possible to virtualize the desktop, or all applications in entirety, the largest organizations are struggling with successfully implementing such a technology. Inhibitors include cost, complexity, scalability, TCO, performance, functionality and security which offset any benefit of the VDI model. Current VDI technology also creates new problems. For example, not only does it require significantly higher network bandwidth than the PC counterparts, it does not adequately utilize the computing power that exists on the endpoint devices, while requiring its replication in the data center.

While pads and tablets are pervasive, they are not an acceptable replacement for the desktop/laptop PC. Applications are still keyboard and mouse centric. Even as applications are modified for the pads, they do not represent the ideal device for authoring documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Even when applications are distributed through hosted/VDI technologies, there is still an operability challenge using a pad.

While the desktop operating system may be dead, the desktop device is not; there will always be a need for some type of edge device, but the edge device does need to be transformed in order to meet the requirement for what large enterprises/users are demanding. Similarly, the back-end technologies to provide hosted desktops and hosted applications are not up to par; there are countless technical challenges to realistically deploy this technology to scale. VDI, in today’s form essentially serves as bridge technology; it is not a viable long-term technology.

With the right combination of software and hardware, there is an opportunity to reinvent the desktop in its entirety.

The Alternative to VDI - Beatty IDA

The value-proposition of a properly architected IDA (Intelligent Desktop Architecture) deployment includes leveraging data center best practices and applying it to the desktop, security, reliability, low-cost, obsolescence-resistant long-lifecycle endpoints, predictability, rapid end-user enablement, and ubiquitous access to applications and data.

It is time for a fresh approach to the desktop computing distributed data processing model/client server. Personal computers have been the standard since the late 1980s.

Beatty’s Intelligent Desktop Architecture (IDA) combines the best of client server computing and the promised VDI solution. A singular vision not a multitude of products that have been cobbled together, but a product line that is eloquent and has been developed to work seamlessly together. The development roadmap clearly shows a concise direction and purpose.

The technology features an application centric architecture that focuses on the dynamic delivery of applications to the edge, based on policies set by the business. Beatty represents the current state of the art for IDA-type technologies through their vSeries platform. Design principles for the Beatty solution include performance, availability, scalability, functionality, security and ease of management.

Beatty vSeries can enhance any traditional VDI implementation or it can dynamically deliver its own desktop experience, zStation, to the edge either over the cloud, datacenter or co-location facility. This eliminates complex information assurance and patch management on the edge. This lightweight, high performance software and protocol represents the industry's first pro-active cyber security appliance that can be delivered to virtually any device, and deliver any desktop through Beatty’s unique and innovative redirection technologies.

Beatty vSeries software provides a framework for the delivery of locally executed applications, eliminating the problems of network saturation/hair-pinning and complex, problematic multimedia redirection configurations. Beatty’s software locally executes media intensive applications, in non-persistent memory and network traffic is nearly eliminated whereas traditional VDI’s performance is strongly reliant on network resources (bandwidth, latency, QoS, compression, etc...) Application server processing requirements are also completely eliminated. Additionally, the IDA architecture can provide the inclusion of soft phone applications, integrating unified communications to the edge as well.

A high level analysis shows the overall cost reduction achievable by implementing Beatty vSeries is 85% less costly than traditional VDI and 60% less costly than classic client-server computing. The analysis indicated a return on investment within approximately twelve months.

Beatty Technology Benefits

  • Simplifies and reduces the cost, complexity and administration of existing desktop infrastructure
  • IDA addresses problems that plague IT managers concerned with delivering applications and services to end users, while drastically reducing the time to deploy
  • Increase security while minimizing complexity, NOT by adding more software to an already bloated stack, but by building a revolutionary platform from the ground up
  • Unlike traditional PCs or other thin clients, zStation does not require any local storage, everything runs in memory
  • Any device can act as a thin client with no CPU manufacturer dependencies
  • Features an “Application Store” type of architecture for distributing new applications (can be restricted to administrators or open, based on policies to end users)
  • Ability to scale massively to 2.5 billion concurrent sessions per Beatty vServer instance
  • Environments can be “evenly loaded”—power users and task users can be mixed within one environment
  • Technology was developed and patented in the US, by US citizens and documented according to DoD specifications (key for Federal)
  • Leverages the benefits of both centralized and distributed computing models
  • Eliminates the dependency on any local operating system
  • True zero-client architecture, nothing to install on edge devices
  • Enables any device to become a thin client
  • Personal preferences can be adjusted by individual users or groups, locally or centrally
  • Grid enabled architecture, provides no single point of failure or the requirement for complex clustering configurations can provide simultaneous access to multiple desktops / multiple sessions, all secured from one another (strong Fed need)