HP Expands Thin-Client, Desktop Virtualization Offerings

Hewlett-Packard is rolling out new hardware, software and services designed to help businesses more easily adopt and implement desktop virtualization environments. The economic recovery and the release of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system are fueling interest in client virtualization among businesses looking to reduce costs and increase the manageability of their computing environments.

The recovery in the global economy, coupled with Microsoft's October release of Windows 7, is creating an environment in which businesses are taking a hard look at new technology, including desktop virtualization, according to Hewlett-Packard officials.

With that in mind, HP on Nov. 17 launched a host of thin-client hardware and software and related services designed to make it easier for businesses to make the move to virtualized desktop environments.

"We've seen a real pickup in IT projects and IT refreshes," Jeff Groudan, vice president of thin-client solutions for the desktop solutions organization in HP's Personal Systems Group, said in an interview. "At the same time, a lot of customers are looking to investigate new computing models."

Research also shows that desktop virtualization is currently a top issue for enterprises, said Jeff Carlat, director of partner and platform software for HP's infrastructure software and blades business.

"We're at an inflection point," Carlat said.

What's kept businesses from more eagerly adopting desktop virtualization in the past has been the complexity involved, the high cost per seat and the poor user experience, Groudan said. HP's new offerings address those hurdles, he said.

The HP t5740 and 5745 Flexible Series thin clients are designed to replace PCs in a client virtualization environment, Groudan said. Powered by Intel's Atom N280 processors and GL40 chip set, the devices will give users the same experience they get using a traditional PC, he said.

The Flexible Series thin clients offer eight USB 2.0 ports and an optional PCI expansion model.

The series also supports rich multimedia for visual display products, including the company's LD4700 47-inch Widescreen LCD Digital Signage display, enabling users to mange the messages on the displays for a single point.

HP also is rolling out an entry-level thin client, the t5325 Essential Series device, which Groudan said is easy to use and set up and comes with enough features-including a local browser and basic multimedia capabilities-to make it attractive to businesses.

All the thin clients come with tools for configuration and management, including the ThinPro Setup Wizard for Linux and HP Easy Config for Windows.

"The ability to make this be easy is important," Groudan said.

Many enterprise IT staffs have little or no familiarity with thin clients or desktop virtualization, so having management software that can automatically configure and connect the devices will help them, he said.

HP also rolled out technologies aimed at the education sector, including the HP MultiSeat solution, which increases computing seats by leveraging the unused computing power of a single PC. The result is up to nine simultaneous users getting their own support and licensed Windows 7 computing experience, HP said.

In addition, TeachNow enables teachers to build lesson plans that can include multimedia, and then push a button to distribute those plans to students. HP's SchoolCloud gives teachers and students around-the-clock access to their applications and data via a virtual desktop by moving them onto a private cloud housed on central servers.

HP also is bringing out new offerings for the data center end of the client virtualization environment, introducing three new client virtualization architectures that touch on Citrix Systems' XenDesktop 4 platform and XenApp application virtualization technology, and VMware's View 4 client virtualization offering, Carlat said.

In addition, HP is rolling out the ProLiant WS460c G6 workstation blade for better collaboration among individuals and teams. The system includes the latest graphics capabilities from Nvidia.

HP's Client Automation 7.8 software supports Windows 7 in the enterprise and is designed to ease the transition to desktop virtualization, he said.

HP also is expanding its services offerings around desktop virtualization. The vendor's Transformation Experience Workshop helps customers design a client virtualization strategy, while the Business Benefit Workshop helps them quantify the benefits of moving to the computing model.

To help businesses integrate desktop virtualization into their overall environments, HP is enhancing its Solution Architecture and Pilot Services.