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VMware View is the company's VDI platform, and thanks to its huge ESX hypervisor installed base around the world, VMware already has a big foot in the door at major enterprises giving them an opportunity to sell VDI wares. The company added a good feature to View last year with the acquisition of RTO Software, which developed technology called Virtual Profiles. These protect files in use while enabling multiple views of the same file. It also updates profiles in real time when a user is running one or more work sessions. For example, when a user creates a new document in one VDI session it will automatically be made available in other active sessions.

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Citrix owns the most well-known and respected open source-based virtual desktop, XenDesktop, which it obtained in the 2007 acquisition of XenSource. Citrix, which has provides multi-user software since the early 1990s, is well-entrenched in the market with about 230,000 customers worldwide. It has longtime partnerships with Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and a number of other Tier 1 players.

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Wyse, which now describes itself as a developer of "cloud client" systems, has been making virtualized desktops for a couple of decades. It called them thin client terminals for years and the old name has been hard to jettison. Wyse and Citrix last year launched the Xenith, a new ultra-thin (or zero-client) unit that is the size of a handheld device, replaces a standard client-server-based desktop and provides a secure connection to an enterprise system within an office environment. In January 2011,??íWyse introduced the Z90, a new thin client that supports Microsofts Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating system. The device offers two-way video capabilities in a complete UC (unified communications) environment.

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For some 20 years, HP has been more of an integrator than a creator in multi-user systems and VDI by offering enterprise-level thin clients using the embedded Microsoft or Linux operating systems and a choice of VMware, Wyse or Citrix software for the client-side layer. In fact, HP claims that more thin-client terminals around the world bear the HP logo than any those offered by any other company. However, since HP has said it intends to become more of an enterprise software creator, we may soon see its own webOS in this space before long—which means it will say bye-bye to some longtime OEMs.

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MokaFive eliminates the three Achilles heels of VDI: latency, security concerns and power-outage worries. End-to-end federal-level encryption and access controls handle security while super-fast code and connectivity solves the latency issue. The company's true "secret sauce"—its LivePC layer—enables a session to continue as normal locally if the Internet connection gets cut. It all syncs up when the connection returns. With MokaFive, IT administrators centrally create a full virtual desktop and then deliver it to users, who download the virtual desktop via a Web link. Users also can carry it around on a USB stick or a smartphone. The LivePC can run on Macs, Windows, or Linux PCs.

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NComputing offers an inexpensive, performance-based, hardwired VDI that it says is ideal for classrooms and groups of users of up to 30 or so. Virtually no latency is apparent. NComputing's "secret sauce" device, which costs about $70, bolts to the back of a monitor, allowing that monitor/keyboard/mouse/speaker "station" to perform as if it had its own processor box beside it.

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Newcomer Kaviza recently added support for iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones. Users of those devices can access virtualized Windows desktops using Version 3.1 of Kaviza's VDI-in-a-Box product and Citrix Receiver. What this means is that users can access an enterprise VDI system on those devices simply as one of the windows on the device. Local applications run as they normally do. Kaviza's software is installed on a server with a hypervisor—Citrix Xen or VMware ESX 4.1—which enables enterprises to run the Microsoft operating system across multiple desktops from one or more company servers.

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IBM had been studying which way it wanted to go in VDI for more than two years before it came out in January 2011 with its own system. It selected Austin, Texas-based Virtual Bridges, with its Verde VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] control system, to supply the management interface software that IBM required. Virtual Bridges' central management and reporting works through a single console; IBM estimates 200 desktops can be run from a single IBM server. Like MokaFive, it enables a session to continue if the Internet connection drops out sync-up takes place automatically when the connection is restored.

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V3 Systems

V3 has a short name that could easily seem to get lost, but it has big potential power in the marketplace. V3's VDA is a 1U-high rack-mounted appliance that serves as a virtual desktop accelerator and delivers virtual desktop performance from a cloud-based environment. Several product testers have concluded that a virtual desktop powered by v3 makes it run even faster than a standard PC.

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Pano Logic

Pano System 4 uses a shiny, tiny brick—with ports for the video, keyboard, mouse and USB connectivity—that provides a practical and cost-effective virtual desktop infrastructure. It removes the need for any PC-like components from the hardware. Pano integrates with VMware View, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenDesktop environments to connect DVMs (Desktop Virtual Machines) created using these virtualization platforms with users who are logging on via a Pano device. The Pano System is suitable for medium-to-large enterprises where desktop workloads dont need more than two monitors—the current limit of the just-released second-generation Pano device.

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