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Dell vWorkspace has some unique features to offer companies doing VDI, but how does it compare with competitors like VMware and Citrix?
Dell entered the desktop virtualization market with the purchase of Quest Software and its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product line. However, VDI marketing is more often about noise than it is capabilities, forcing potential adopters to investigate vendors' claims and technologies in detail.
More on Dell vWorkspace
Dell recently launched vWorkspace 8, which brings a multitude of features to the table, the most notable of which include tighter integration into Hyper-V and full support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. Another important addition is the Hyper-V Catalyst component (HCC) support, which speeds deployments, increases performance and simplifies management. Nevertheless, one has to wonder what makes vWorkspace different in the crowded market of VDI purveyors.
The primary competitors for Dell vWorkspace are VMware Horizon View and Citrix XenDesktop. However, those offerings rely on their own ecosystems; elements such as connection brokers, hypervisors and protocols are usually proprietary to the product. In some cases, that can make Citrix and VMware easier to deploy, but it can also be much more expensive and less flexible in practice.
Hypervisor and protocol support
Dell vWorkspace takes a multi-hypervisor approach and offers support for VMware ESX, Parallels Virtuozzo and Microsoft Hyper-V, which for the most part is a no-cost add-on for Microsoft's server product line. VMware defaults to vSphere as its hypervisor environment, offering robust virtualization services, but at an added cost. Citrix, on the other hand, can work with Xen, ESX or Hyper-V, which makes it a little more complicated to deploy and potentially increases the management and deployment costs. That may negate any savings found in using a no-cost hypervisor.
Another important feature of vWorkspace is that the product concurrently supports terminal services and terminal sessions hosts. That means it doesn't have to be deployed as a traditional VDI product and can replace terminal services implementations, while supporting a transition to hypervisor-based VDI.
What's more, vWorkSpace uses the Experience Optimized Protocol (EOP) -- including RDP and RemoteFX connections -- which accelerates and optimizes communications, giving a better end user experience. Most other VDI platforms do not bundle in acceleration and optimization technologies, making those features an additional expense.
There are a multitude of other considerations when comparing these VDI products, such as the type of deployment. For example, are you providing virtual desktops to task workers (those that just need access to particular applications or used as a method to replace traditional desktops)? Do you need to support mobile users and disconnected users as well?
Benefits of the unified approach
Combining support for multiple hypervisors and terminal services into a single product means VDI shops don't have to make forced choices or follow a predetermined path. Dell vWorkspace allows organizations to pilot multiple VDI projects and select which implementation is the best fit for a given task. It also quells management concerns by offering a centralized, unified management console, which allows administrators to manage all VDI/terminal services implementations from a single dashboard, something that is not found in competing products.
Unified management goes hand in hand with automation, another benefit vWorkspace offers. Most other VDI platforms require manual execution of management tasks and hands-on monitoring and control, but vWorkspace allows administrators to script and automate tasks. For user management, many products rely on third parties or extensions to existing user directories to manage user profiles. VWorkspace integrates user profile management into its management console, further reducing costs and expediting management chores.
Dell vWorkspace offers different approaches and some unique features that help the product take the lead in flexibility and ease of deployment from competitors. That combined with lower initial costs and support for the latest Microsoft technologies should help Dell garner more recognition for vWorkspace.