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Pat Romanski

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News Item

The Future of Thin Client Computing

Mobile Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtualization on Ulitzer

Kovarus, Inc., a technology consulting firm specializing in data center design, implementation, and optimization, today announced the findings of a ground-breaking, 30-day mobile VDI experiment. From June 1st through June 30th, Kovarus Senior Solutions Architect Alex Weeks shut down his Lenovo T500 and operated only a Wyse X90 Thin Client laptop. The entire experiment was chronicled through his daily blog at http://virtuallyalex.blogspot.com/.

Gartner predicts that approximately 50 million user licenses for hosted virtual desktops will be purchased by 2013. While much has been published about the promise of VDI, most users are still tethered to their thin client desktops. Very little data exists about the use of mobile thin client devices and how to solve challenges related to connectivity and application performance.

"At a corporate level, the simplified management, data security, and reduction in administrative costs associated with mobile VDI are well worth the investment with the right IT guidance," said Weeks. "In essence, mobile VDI has the potential to combine the cost savings and improved system management of thin client computing with the portability and convenience of mobile computing."

Throughout the 30-day experiment, Weeks followed his typical day-to-day work schedule. He is constantly on the go and needs a laptop with the capabilities and applications to support his demanding workflow. Most days he was onsite at customer facilities architecting and implementing data center solutions, delivering multiple presentations and testing new technology.

The biggest challenge he faced was the ability to connect to a network while out in the field. Without access to his virtual desktop Weeks was rendered unproductive. As expected, he ran into firewall issues and was not able to make VPN connections without some specific reconfigurations. He did try unsuccessfully to tether his Blackberry to use as a modem, however there is support for other broadband cellular networking options. Weeks did not have access to these other options, but looks forward to testing them and evaluating performance on a broadband connection.

Weeks also encountered complications when using certain applications like GoToMeeting and Microsoft PowerPoint through his VPN. Since he frequently delivers customer presentations in person and remotely, the ability to boot up his laptop and immediately start these applications was a must. Because the X90 runs Windows XP embedded on the system, Weeks discovered while troubleshooting that he could install these applications directly on the thin client to give him the start-up time he needed.

As the technology matures, Weeks would like to see the addition of the predefined connection options that remote desktop protocol offers, such as the ability to modify screen resolution or color depth. These options are handy during slow connections and would provide greater flexibility and ease of use for the end user.

Weeks has reverted back to his Lenovo T500, but has permanently altered his work patterns. He will continue to test and blog about mobile VDI among other things at http://virtuallyalex.blogspot.com/.

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