Dell is offering a new way to deliver centralized desktop computing within an enterprise.
During a conference call with reporters and analysts on Oct. 10, the Round Rock, Texas, company introduced a new set of software, hardware and services under the umbrella title of "On-Demand Desktop Streaming." The computing solution, according to Dell executives, offers a start-to-finish desktop computing environment for office workers.
Unlike more traditional thin clients or PC blades, Dells package offers a standard desktop model—in this case either OptiPlex 745 or 755 PC—with only the hard disk drives removed. The desktop still retains an Intel microprocessor and a graphics chip, which offers better graphics capabilities and visual experience compared with a thin client or PC blades, said Jeff Clark, the senior vice president of Dells Product Group.
Dell also provides the back-end infrastructure within the data center, including a PowerEdge 2950 server, a PowerConnect Gigabit Ethernet switch and a PowerEdge 2900 storage server.
The individual desktop images, Clark said, are managed by Citrixs Provisioning Server for Desktops software, which will deliver Microsoft Windows XP or Vista operating systems and Windows applications from the data center to the individual desktop. The Citrix software is based on the software streaming technology it acquired when the company purchased Ardence in December 2006.
The result is that 100 individual desktop images can be stored on a single server and these images are then streamed to an employees standard desktop PC. Clark said the images are all controlled from the data center, which reduces the possibility of a virus infecting the network, while providing IT with the ability to better manage an enterprises fleet of PCs.
"This solution provides full application and functionality for the user with an on-demand experience that is no different than a traditional PC," Clark said. "There is zero latency and it maintains the full multimedia experience."
Since the beginning of the year, several major IT companies, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others have been offering a host of centralized computing solutions, including new products built around thin-client PCs and blade PCs.
Once considered a niche part of the PC market, thin clients and PC blades are getting a second look from both vendors and customers as both look for an easier way to manage the corporate desktop environment. In addition, vendors are pushing thin clients and PC blades as an easier way for enterprises to deploy Microsofts Vista OS.
The difference with the Dell solution, Clark said, is that by using a standard desktop model, the company is able to deliver better graphics capabilities and rich media content compared to a standard thin-client PC. Compared to blades, Clark said, the all-in-one infrastructure allows IT department to manage many more desktop images off of a single, standard server.
Dell is also including a feature called EasyConnect, which works with the Citrix software and helps IT managers keep track of licenses and allows for an instant desktop boot from the server.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said the difference between Dell and other vendors is that Dells products allow for more desktop images to be managed off a single server. The other difference is that Dell is offering all the hardware, most of the software and the services itself.
Other vendors, such as IBM, have struck deals with third parties to provide the PCs, servers, software or services needed for this type of data center-based solution.
"I also think this is going to appeal to customers that Dell already has in its pockets," King said. "A lot of what has been going on in the last year involves the deployment of Vista and Office and there are a lot of companies out there with a lot of employees and they are not only concerned about upgrading the software licenses, but they want to buy hardware that they know is going to run these applications effectively."
Since returning to the company earlier this year, Michael Dell has worked to bring new technologies to both his companys enterprise division as well as the consumer side.
The streaming solution will be sold through Dells direct sales force in the United States for a cost of $1,100 per seat. The diskless OptiPlex desktops will be available in November.