Qumranet's SolidICE ships as Citrix XenDesktop debut nears

KVM sponsor Qumranet launched its long awaited desktop virtualization solution today, just weeks before rival Citrix launches its own XenDesktop solution.The Sunnyvale, calif.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

KVM sponsor Qumranet launched its long awaited desktop virtualization solution today, just weeks before rival Citrix launches its own XenDesktop solution.

The Sunnyvale, calif. company announced on April 30 the release of Solid ICE (Independent Computing Environment), a hosted desktop virtualization product that promises desktop-like performance with support for multiple monitors, bi-directional audio and video, streaming video and USB support.

The company's SPICE remote rendering technology is said to offer a superior virtualized desktop experience to other VDI solutions and provides instant access to a full Windows or Linux desktop on demand and zero downtime if a client fails. The company promises sub 15 microsecond switchover time between guests and supports Windows 2000 and Windows XP desktops (Vista support comes in next version) as well as Linux desktops. Ubuntu's recently released 8.04 version supports KVM.

Qumranet's desktop virtualization focus makes it unique from its competitors, including VMware and Citrix, which tackle the server and desktop virtualization problem.  Benny Schnaider, Qumranet’s CEO and co-founder, said existing VDI solutions and remote desktop computing solutions are not on par with the desktop experience enjoyed by most PC users and that has stalled adoption of hosted desktop virtualization. Solid ICE's image compression technology and SPICE remote technology ensure that no features are disabled and graphical performance is not degraded.   

"We don't want the user to tell if the desktop is running locally or remotely," said Schnaider, also a co-founder of P-Cube, which was sold to Cisco.   

Kernel-based Virtual Machine technology, an open source alternative to the Xen hypervisor which is built directly into the Linux kernel, is also backed by IBM, Intel, AMD, Red Hat and Novell.

While it lags in the server virtualization department, KVM is efficient and is being used for embedded and real-time systems used by Wall Street traders and others who require zero downtime, Schnaider notes

Solid ICE also offers built in management tools including centralized management, storage and policy enforcement as well as instant provisioning of new desktops.

The company said it prices the product by concurrent virtual machines, $200 per concurrent virtual machine which includes one monitor support and one SPICE display. Qumranet also offers a 30-day trial on its web site.

Interestingly, Citrix some years back launched its own remote desktop technology dubbed ICA that was viewed as a competitor to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol. When asked if Qumranet's ICE naming is a playful stab at Citrix, Qumranet would not comment directly. "There is a story behind ICE.  ICE is a concept of using virtualization technology to move the user environment from server to client and then to another environment like embedded," Schnaider said about Solid ICE and the SPICE remote display technology, which are not reminiscent of Citrix's ICA. "No, it's not confusing."

Meanwhile, Citrix is getting set to launch its own long awaited desktop virtualization solution called XenDesktop based on the open source Xen virtualization hypervisor. On May 20, Citrix, which acquired open source virtualization frontrunner XenSource last year, plans to launch XenDesktop at its Synergy conference in Houston.

XenDesktop has been in beta testing for some time and also promises an "unparalleled end-user experience, dramatically simplified desktop management and a cost reduction on the traditional desktop computing by up to 40 percent. XenDesktop will be priced at $75 per concurrent user.

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