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Rolling Review Kickoff: Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure

Rolling Review gauges systems' features and suitability for startup.
GOT ENOUGH RESOURCES?
Our lab environment consists of a back-end hypervisor running on a 64-bit Hewlett-Packard DL 360 G5 with plenty of storage and 10 GB of RAM. We'll install front-end connection brokers and other supporting components on several HP DL 360 G3 servers with 4 GB of RAM and dual Xeon quad-core processors.

We'll load-test each vendor's offering using a combination of thick and thin clients, and we'll use an application analysis and network simulation appliance from Shunra Software to see how products handle network latency. We'll also test the Virtual Access Suite connection broker, which leverages VMware's Virtual Infrastructure to transform desktops and applications into on-demand virtual services.

Stoneware isn't a pure-play VDI vendor, but its unique approach to remote desktop access makes it worth profiling here. Increasingly, vendors like Stoneware are building Web-based desktops on top of terminal services that look and feel like a real client operating system.

LAW AND ORDER
Our business needs center on Bits and Bytes Legal Services LLC, a fictional startup that provides legal and litigation services for high-tech companies. B&B plans to scale to 100 employees--25 lawyers and 75 paralegals--over the course of 12 months in four high-tech hubs: Dallas, Silicon Valley, Washington, and Boston.

As a startup, B&B is interested in a desktop setup that requires minimal capital outlay to get up and running. All B&B staffers will need quick remote access to back-end systems for e-mail, file sharing, print services, Office apps, and a SaaS-based CRM package from Salesforce.com. B&B's 25 attorneys travel frequently and will use fat-client laptops. The 75 paralegals, divided roughly equally among the four offices, will access their virtual desktops via HP thin clients.

Each vendor will submit pricing for all software and services required to satisfy the business requirement. B&B's IT manager will add in the costs of other hardware and maintenance, and will factor in his $100,000 salary across all 100 systems to develop an accurate model for total cost of ownership.

Given the youth of the VDI market and the different desktop delivery methods of the vendors in this Rolling Review, head-to-head comparisons won't always be possible. We'll focus on the installation and implementation process, enterprise management features, provisioning, performance, and resource usage. We'll wrap up our Rolling Review with a comprehensive analysis on feature, performance, and cost differences among all participating vendors.

Up first: VMware's VDI.



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