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VDI Rolling Review: Wrap Up, Virtual Desktops Are For Real

VIRTUAL DESKTOP INFRASTRUCTURE
Rolling Review Kickoff
VDI lowers operating expenses while providing an extra dose of security--users can't install software, so a major attack vector is effectively closed down.
Citrix XenDesktop 3.0
Citrix XenDesktop 3.0 brings a small technology advantage to our Rolling Review of virtual desktop infrastructure products.
Ericom's WebConnect
Ericom's PowerTerm WebConnect makes a strong case for becoming a part of your VDI infrastructure.
Leostream Connection Broker
Connection Broker 6.0 is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product designed for organizations that have standardized on VMware ESX and VirtualCenter.
MokaFive
MokaFive creates a portable virtual machine that can run independently on any laptop or PC.
Sun Microsystems VDI 3
Sun Microsystems' new and improved virtual desktop offering, VDI 3.0.
Sychron OnDemand Desktop
OnDemand Desktop provisions and deploys VMs fast, but has a few quirks, too.
Virtual Iron 4.5 VDI
Since this review ran, Oracle says it will use the Virtual Iron suite to complement Oracle VM, its own server virtualization software. We have included this article for historical purposes.
Rolling Review: VMware Shows Agility In View 3
Since this review ran, VMware has revved View to version 4. We have included this article for historical purposes.
Wrap Up
The players in our review ran the gamut from smaller vendors that primarily act as connection brokers to brand-name server virtualization players.

After testing virtual desktop infrastructure software from nine vendors, we've got a solid feel for where VDI fits into your long-term strategy for end-user computing. The players in our review ran the gamut from smaller vendors that primarily act as connection brokers to brand-name server virtualization players. We tested products from Citrix, Ericom, Leostream, MokaFive, Quest Software, Sun Microsystems (since acquired by Oracle), Sychron, Virtual Iron (also acquired by Oracle) and VMware.

We had three goals for our tests: to review feature sets, to develop a rudimentary cost/benefit analysis, and to determine whether VDI is ready for wide use. To that end, we tested each product using a broad set of criteria, including hypervisor support, manageability, resource management, provisioning, desktop access, performance, and cost. To test the software, we built a lab environment around a simulated business with 100 employees and four sites. (For more about our lab setup, see the box.)

The Highlights
Citrix's XenDesktop gets our pick for Editor's Choice for a comprehensive feature set, especially compared with the version of VMware's View that we tested in the lab. However, a subsequent version of View that came out after our test puts that product on nearly equal footing with XenDesktop.

There were several outstanding vendors in other categories as well. For example, the award for the most robust back-end hypervisor support goes to Ericom. Ericom was the only vendor besides Citrix with full support for XenServer. While other brokers in our Rolling Review were able to serve out desktops running on Xen, only Ericom and Citrix were able to fully manage and provision virtual desktops. In addition, Ericom supports another dozen or so hypervisors, including some pretty obscure ones, so if you need to serve out virtual desktops across a wide range of hypervisors, give Ericom a look.

Sychron and Quest are at the top of our list in the resource management area. Sychron OnDemand Desktop impressed us with its ability group virtual desktops into "habitats" and apply specific quality-of-service parameters to those habitats. For example, if your back-end hypervisor box is running low on resources, with OnDemand desktop you can ensure that users in the sales group are allocated memory and processing resources ahead of the HR group.

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