HP and Dell shops that use VDI continue to get better virtual desktop hardware options as the two competitors race to deliver the next best thing.
This week, during the Citrix Synergy 2012 conference in San Francisco, Hewlett-Packard announced a new zero client and Dell added another virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) component to its Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) system. Wyse Technology Inc., now owned by Dell, also delivered a new zero client, Wyse Xenith 2, on Wednesday.
Competition between HP and Dell heated up when Dell acquired Wyse, HP's main thin client competitor, in April.
For now, Wyse continues to operate as a separate entity. Once the acquisition is finalized, Dell must integrate Wyse devices and software with its own products, the way HP integrated Neoware Inc.'s clients after it acquired the company five years ago.
[HP and Dell] seem to leapfrog one another all the time.
TTU systems support manager
"HP has been talking the talk for a while, and it will take Dell and Wyse a while to integrate," said Bob O'Donnell, a client device analyst with IDC Corp., an analyst firm based in Framingham, Mass.
For HP, the Dell-Wyse transition period means the possibility of new business.
"We are going to try to capitalize on any disruptions that the acquisitions may cause," said Jeff Groudan, HP's director of thin clients.
Meanwhile, getting customers to invest in zero clients in the first place is the big challenge for Dell and HP; zero client and thin client adoption follows VDI adoption, which has only a small market, O'Donnell said.
"There are a lot of infrastructure investments required and knowledge, and that's the stopgap," O'Donnell said. Plus, HP and Dell "are trying to sell [thin clients] against the de-facto standard of PCs -- and now we have things like iPad coming into the scenario."
But, both HP and Dell have a massive customer base, so they can certainly win the favor of VDI shops that already use their hardware, he said.
Dell's VDI play: Simplicity
Dell's virtual desktop play is all about making VDI easy by pre-integrating systems.
Instead of having to cobble all the pieces of VDI together themselves, customers can buy a pre-built Dell DVS bundle and manage the entire environment -- including the servers, storage and software -- together.
With this approach, there is one point of contact for support if something goes wrong, the company said.
Dell DVS versions:
There is DVS Simplified with Citrix VDI-in-a-Box or Desktone's Desktop as a Service with Dell PowerEdge servers for small- and mid-sized IT shops. The other option is DVS Enterprise, which includes Dell 12G servers, Dell storage, Dell network components, broker and hypervisor software, and the option of Unidesk management software and end points including Wyse thin clients.
Dell updated DVS Enterprise this week by adding Unidesk Corp.'s software into the mix. Unidesk offers desktop provisioning and management software for Citrix Systems Inc. XenDesktop or VMware Inc. View environments. Pricing for the DVS system was not made available.
The software basically breaks up Windows into core components -- or layers -- to let IT build personalized desktops and deliver departmental applications. This way, IT can build one golden image to manage all of a company's desktops and departmental applications.
Tennessee Tech University (TTU) in Cookeville, Tenn. uses Unidesk to manage 900 virtual desktops based on VMware View.
"With View, we can manage [desktops in the computer] lab, but with Unidesk we can manage the applications," said Dennis Hood, TTU's systems support manager. "If we want to update an app, we don't have to worry about updating 10 different templates; it simplifies management."
The university uses Dell hardware including FX100 zero clients and OptiFlex FX130 thin clients for VDI, along with Dell EqualLogic storage and Dell servers. The IT team remains loyal to Dell, despite some good experiences for Hood with HP in the past.
"They (Dell) are responsive when we have an issue, give us excellent pricing and products and they ship parts quickly," Hood said.
"[HP and Dell] seem to leapfrog one another all the time," he said. "When one isn't doing something well, the other is."
HP's new thin clients
HP's strategy in the virtual desktop market is to be the first to introduce the next best client device.
In October, HP claimed to be the first to deliver a zero client that supports both USB and Ethernet connections. This week, it's a low-power (13-watt) HP t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client that is the first client to take advantage of Power over Ethernet (PoE).
More on HP and Dell VDI:
Dell acquires Wyse for thin client desktop virtualization
Dell's Wyse acquisition transforms VDI thin client market
The advantages of PoE are energy reduction and cost savings, and the benefit of a zero client is that it has no moving parts to manage, HP said.
The new all-in-one zero client is "a culmination of trends," O'Donnell said. "It's a statement product that some folks will find attractive -- if they are considering zero clients."
The HP t410 AiO supports Citrix's HDX system-on-chip for high definition virtual desktops. It also includes an ARM processor and integrated Digital Signage Processor to display full-screen high-definition (HD) video with good performance.
In a VMware View environment, the devices can be reprogrammed to support PCoIP, according to HP.
The HP t410 AiO Smart Zero Client is expected to be available this summer. Pricing for the t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client will be $429.
Read our complete Citrix Synergy 2012 conference coverage here.