In the vPresence of a Virtual Desktop

Are you on the path to virtual desktop freedom? If so, check out a new virtual desktop offering from Virtuon that uses VMware's View product for delivery.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

On one of my many cloud-computing, virtualization and virtual desktop searches, I ran across Virtuon's vPresence virtual desktop solution and thought you should see it. I signed up for a free trial to see what it's like and if it's something my readers would like to see. It's pretty cool. I've used it on my iPad and on my regular desktop and find it to be a good solution, if you're looking to move to a virtual desktop.

What you're looking at is the Windows 7 desktop interface on which I installed Yawcam and connected my USB camera (Panasonic HM-TA1) for this shot. I really just wanted to see if it's possible to install and use a USB device from a remote desktop. It is. I don't know if it's allowed to install software on the demo system but I thought I'd try it anyway. As with most everything else I do, I feel that it's better to apologize than to ask permission.

The remote system was aware of my USB HP OfficeJet printer and my external USB disk as well without any intervention from me. My camera required me to select the Connect USB Device on the VMware View Client menu. There is an option on that same menu to Autoconnect USB devices.

The system recognized my HM-TA1 right away, installed support for it and I was using video in about three minutes. To be fair, there is a significant delay in the video stream but this is a demo and I'm not sure if what I did was Terms of Service compliant but it's a good experiment and demonstration of what a virtual desktop can do.

Other than video, the overall desktop experience is quite satisfying, especially on the iPad.

Because Virtuon's vPresence uses VMware's View product, I feel that the product is secure, stable and will always be available when I need it. If you don't believe in VMware View's security, you'll have to take that discussion to VMware. Here is their security information:

Maintain control over data and intellectual property by keeping it secure in the datacenter. End-users access their personalized desktop, complete with applications and data, securely from any location, at any time without jeopardizing corporate security policies. End-users outside of the corporate network can connect to their desktop easily and securely through the VMware View Security Server. Integration with vShield Endpoint enables offloaded and centralized anti-virus and anti-malware (AV) solutions. This integration helps to eliminate agent sprawl and AV storm issues while minimizing the risk of malware infection and simplifying AV administration. VMware View also supports integration with RSA SecureID for 2-factor authentication requirements.

Performance is decent. I won't lie to you and say that it's lightning fast because it isn't. But, if you're connected via WiFi with an iPad, you'll find that it does a good job for you. Although, working with the desktop for prolonged periods from other platforms might leave you feeling like you're working on a 486 machine but, again, this is a demo and I don't know what's dedicated to it resource-wise.

Overall, VMware View nets high marks for virtualized desktop solutions. I have to believe that VMware View's performance will get better in its next iteration.

However, it could be that virtual desktop performance is kind of like RAID: Fast, inexpensive, safe--choose any two. If so, I understand. Higher security usually means higher cost and lower performance. And, if security is the ultimate roadblock to virtual desktop adoption, then look no further.

Fortunately, Virtuon's offerings extend beyond the virtual desktop category. They sell and support thin clients, create SaaS applications, sell and support storage solutions and other products. Virtuon also offers training, consulting, staffing and development services.

Virtualized desktops are a tough sell due mostly to performance and to security issues. VMware View solves the security problem but not performance. If your users use standard applications (Email, MS Office and Internet Explorer), they'll be fine. However, if their needs extend beyond those into multi-media or bandwidth-heavy work, hold off for a while.

What do you think of virtual desktop solutions? Do you think performance will ever meet expectations or is it a lost cause?

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