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Quest Seeks To Speed Path To Desktop Virtualization

Quest's Experience Optimization Pack works in a standard Microsoft desktop environment across hypervisors from VMware, Microsoft, Virtual Iron or Parallels to give users of virtualized desktops a richer experience.

The Provision Networks unit of Quest Software has launched an Experience Optimization Pack to give users of virtualized desktops an experience that more closely resembles the one they had when they fired up their own hardware.

End user virtualization typically relies on desktops running on central servers, and several forms have so far proved barely passable or unsatisfactory to end users accustomed to having their own hardware. The optimization pack is aimed at some of the current drawbacks to virtualizing end users, such as the inability to move rich graphics or voice rapidly between servers and desktops.

"There are still barriers to virtualization that must be overcome" for the typical enterprise Windows environment, said Paul Ghostine, Quest VP and general manager of the Provision Networks division.

The Quest approach is to work with Microsoft's RDP protocol, used by Microsoft Terminal Services. RDP is now a defacto open protocol with a great deal of information published about it. Another route is that of Citrix Systems, which has come with its own high performance, but proprietary ICA protocol. Both run on top of Windows Server 2003 or 2008 but RDP, used by both Quest and VMware for desktop virtualization, is the more open protocol choice, said Ghostine in an interview.

Quest already offers Virtual Access Suite, which provisions end users through Microsoft Active Directory authorization with a virtual machine. The Quest product is one of the few that works in a standard Microsoft desktop environment and across hypervisors from VMware, Microsoft, Virtual Iron (based on open source Xen) or Parallels. It supports Windows XP or Vista desktops.

Adding Experience Optimization Pack helps make the Virtual Access Suite desktop a richer environment. For example, EOP enables the delivery of multimedia content, such as a recorded Webcast, from a remote location to a virtualized desktop; it accelerates Adobe Flash animations and other rich graphics.

It improves the speed of delivery of remote training, and supports bi-directional audio to allow the deployment to virtualized desktops of diction, collaboration based on voice and certain VOIP applications.

Part of the result of EOP is simply faster communications between virtualized desktops, so that word processing can be a collaborative effort.

Experience Optimization Pack is priced at $40 per concurrent user. It is an optional add-on to Virtual Access Suite version 5.10. The Desktop Services Edition of VAS is priced at $50 per concurrent user; the Enterprise Edition, $99 per concurrent user.

Ghostine said while both VMware and Quest base their desktop virtualization on RDP, Quest's Provision Network engineering has reduced the network latency in RDP and speeded up virtual user presentations over the LAN or WAN.

In word processing, it wouldn't be unusual for a half second delay to emerge between the typing by an end user and the time a corresponding letter appears on his virtual desktop display. A fast typist begins to get multiple words or sentences ahead of the word processor, disrupting his ability to generate a document. Virtual Access Suite minimizes the delay. The EOP add-on enhances the performance of bitmapped graphics and other multimedia content.

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