Dell Introduces New Thin Client Desktops, Virtual Lab 2.0 For Academia

Dell has broadened its line of OptiPlex thin client desktop computers for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments and introduced Dell Virtual Lab 2.0 for managing VDI environments in college and university computer labs, in order to deliver in-demand academic applications. The introductions, made Wednesday, also include an OptiPlex 390 business desktop computer.New are the OptiPlex FX130 and OptiPlex FX170 thin clients, which join the OptiPlex FX100 and FX160 that are already shipping

May 26, 2011

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Dell has broadened its line of OptiPlex thin client desktop computers for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments and introduced Dell Virtual Lab 2.0 for managing VDI environments in college and university computer labs, in order to deliver in-demand academic applications.

The introductions, made Wednesday, also include an OptiPlex 390 business desktop computer.New are the OptiPlex FX130 and OptiPlex FX170 thin clients, which join the OptiPlex FX100 and FX160 that are already shipping. The FX100 is an entry-level single-task model, while the new FX130 has more capabilities, said John Holstrom, director of software and solutions product marketing in the Dell Business Client unit. The FX130 was designed specifically for companies that want to build a VDI environment, he said.

“They understand the true cost of ownership, a real big important factor, and yet they still wanted the client to be an extremely affordable solution,” Holstrom said. He described the FX130 as a full desktop replacement unit, with a powerful processor, dual display capabilities and support for multiple graphics formats.

The new FX170 is a complement to the existing FX160, but with support for Linux instead of Windows, he said. The FX170 supports 1920 x 1200 32-bit color screen resolution and strong graphics processors.

Thin client desktops are used in VDI environments in which software applications are delivered to the desktops from a virtualized server. The OptiPlex line supports virtualization platforms such as Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop, Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, VMware View and other Web-based applications. The endpoints still need their own processing power, but the CPUs on the OptiPlex line are small fanless units with no moving parts; they’re only 6 inches tall, 1.5 inches thick and 4.5 inches deep.The starting price for the OptiPlex FX130 is US$349 and for the FX170, $449, while pricing for the OptiPlex 390 starts at $671. All are available starting May 26 in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Also introduced Wednesday is the Virtual Lab 2.0 VDI management platform that is based on the recently released Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DDVS) portfolio of pretested and preconfigured hardware and software for VDI environments.

“Based on customer feedback, we’re trying to help universities transform the way that they provide computing services to their students,” said Erica Hilgeman, education solutions manager within Dell’s education business unit.

Virtual Lab 2.0 delivers six commonly used applications in college and university lab environments: Adobe Premiere Pr CS3, AutoCad 2DLT, Wolfram Mathmatica 7, Mathworks MatLab, SAS and IBM SPSS. Virtual Lab 2.0 will support seven more applications by the end of the year, Hilgeman said.

While some schools deliver the virtual image to desktops in an existing computer lab, she said others are also delivering the image to students’ personal computing devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones.

See more on this topic by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports Research: VDI Adoption 2010 (subscription required).

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