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VMware and Teradici address partnership questions, plan PCoIP updates

Amid speculation that VMware and Teradici could split, the two companies address the rumors and View protocol update plans ahead of VMworld 2013.

As some wonder whether VMware will continue to rely on PCoIP for VDI, Teradici has updated its PCoIP server offload product for Horizon View environments, and protocol enhancements for View will soon be disclosed.

There has been speculation VMware Inc. and PC over IP (PCoIP) maker Teradici Corp. could split, since VMware recently developed its own HTML 5 protocol, Blast, to support the use of a Web browser to access View desktops.

A break between PCoIP and View is unlikely.

"VMware building Blast makes people think, 'What is going on here?'" said one industry expert who requested anonymity. "While it makes sense for people to think they might be going their own way, it would be ridiculous of them to part ways."

VMware could also rely on Microsoft's RemoteFX or acquire a company such as Framehawk Inc., which built a protocol to deliver Windows applications via mobile devices, wrote industry analyst Gabe Knuth in a recent blog post.

But a break between PCoIP and View is unlikely because there are a number of vendor relationships tied to PCoIP.

"The Teradici-VMware relationship has been rocky, but if the rug got pulled out it would be a surprise to everyone; I don't see that happening," the industry expert said.

Teradici said the two companies remain fully committed to their partnership and said they will discuss their continued collaboration efforts during the VMworld 2013 conference next week.

PCoIP improvements listed in a conference session description include unified communications support, new zero client flexibility, enhanced virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) user experience and use cases, new APEX server offload features and network optimizations.

The improvements are expected to be integrated into VMware's upcoming VDI offering update, View 5.5.

VMware, for its part, can -- and does -- supplement Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 or Blast for PCoIP, however. But the company said PCoIP has been a key ingredient in the success of Horizon View.

"We are committed to our partnership with Teradici and to PCoIP as part of the Horizon View solution moving forward," said Jeff Jennings, senior vice president of enterprise desktop and end-user computing for VMware, in an email.

PCoIP APEX driver update lowers bandwidth consumption

As both companies prepare to present PCoIP improvements next week, Teradici's server offload card, now called the PCoIP Hardware Accelerator (APEX), has an updated driver that will be available this week.

View shops use Teradici's APEX card to free up CPU power, but at the expense of bandwidth, according to separate tests run by Gartner Inc. and VirtualFuture.

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The new APEX driver 2.3 alleviates the bandwidth issue with caching support. It reduces bandwidth consumption by up to 50% for GPU-intensive applications, and worker applications such as PowerPoint and Excel get a 20% to 25% bandwidth utilization improvement, according to Teradici.

The PCoIP offload card itself caters to a small niche: high-definition video and multimedia content delivered by virtual desktops. The card also costs $1,995, so IT pros considering it should weigh that price tag against buying a separate server, one industry analyst said.

But for PCoIP shops that need to deliver GPU-based apps remotely and already use the APEX card, the new driver allows them to increase the number of virtual desktops they run per server.

Mahesh Neelakanta, director of IT at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), uses it with View 5.2 to support about 300 remote desktop users on a server rack loaded with 16-core AMD processors and NVIDIA's K1 board. The APEX card, which plugs into PCI Express slots, offloads the PCoIP compressions happening within the virtual machines (VMs) for better performance, he said.

"We went from running five VMs with the APEX card turned off to eight VMs with it on," Neelakanta said. The workload running in this scenario? A high-definition 720P YouTube trailer of Thor: God of Thunder, of course. It ran at 95% CPU utilization with good performance, he said.

The APEX card with the new driver is useful for FAU's lab environments, where up to 30 end users run applications such as SolidWorks or AutoCAD from their virtual desktops, Neelakanta said.

"We don't want computers running slow," he said. "Even reducing utilization by 10% makes a big difference for us."

The 2.3 driver release is available as of August 20, 2013 as a free download. It is compatible with View 4.6 through View 5.2 and ESXi 4.1 through vSphere 5.1. Customers that update to later versions will need to download updated drivers when they become available. Teradici will deliver updated drivers within one month of a version release.

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