Nvidia, Dell Push to Make VDI Easy, More Robust

A week after VMware unveils new Horizon 6 capabilities, Nvidia officials talk vGPUs while Dell rolls out an appliance for virtual environments.


SAN JOSE, Calif.—Desktop virtualization has a history of unfulfilled promise.

The technology has been promoted for years as a way of helping employees become more productive while enabling IT departments to more easily safeguard and manage corporate data by keeping it centrally housed within the company's data center.

However, the user experience hasn’t always matched what employees need. The environment has had trouble handling graphics-intensive workloads and meeting the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce that requires the ability to connect through a broad array of devices and systems.

Now tech vendors are promising an improved experience and better security and management through enhanced virtualization technologies and by leveraging the parallel processing capabilities of GPUs.

VMware last week announced the latest release of its Horizon 6 virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform that officials said will provide rich, 3-D graphics on high-performance virtual desktops for workstation-level workloads. The enhancements include enabling Nvidia's Grid virtual GPU (vGPU) to run on VMware products, including Horizon 6, which should make it easier to run a range of graphics-intensive applications, from videos and three-dimensional CAD workloads to Microsoft's PowerPoint, Adobe's Illustrator and interactive workloads, in a virtualized desktop environment.

A week later, Nvidia and Dell talked about separate efforts they're making to better run workstation-class applications in virtualized environments. At the GPU Technology Conference 2015 (GTC) here, Andrew Cresci, general manager of Nvidia's Grid business, said that now that VMware's Horizon 6 platform is available with Nvidia's vGPU technology, the challenge is to educate users about the capabilities around running graphics-rich workloads in their virtual desktop environments.

It's also about showing organizations and employees how this capability will help change the way they do business. Enterprises can more easily manage and secure their data while employees are more mobile. If there is a problem with a system in the data center, an IT professional through their virtual desktop can solve the issue remotely rather than having to come into the building on a weekend day.

For much of the past 10 years, the case for VDI was made in total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) terms, Cresci said. That has changed.