How much more competitive would our businesses be, if we could harness the skills of staff members around the world to work on projects?
What if we could use staff in different time zones to rush work out to clients faster than our competitors?
Collaboration is getting easier; Skype for Business, Webex. We can meet up virtually to talk. We can send emails, chat, work collaboratively on Word or Excel documents - but real-world applications that businesses rely on do not necessarily lend themselves to a collaborative work place environment.
Applications can have huge data files. Moving them between branches or overseas is time-consuming and if the data is copied and moved then version control also becomes an issue. Our clients see this with applications such as AutoCAD, Revet, SVSlope, and Vulcan.
Fortunately there is a better way.
Three recent advances in technology enable staff round the world to work using these sorts of graphics-intensive applications. They all build on the well-established thin client technology that has been around for 20 years: where people see just a copy of a virtual screen at their desktop, with a virtual PC running in the central server farm.
The advances are:
1. Servers run virtual desktops faster due to new hyperconverged architecture.
Nutanix NX-1450 showing 4 nodes each 2 x CPU 256GB in 2RU.
Scaling up the number of simultaneous clients that can run in the virtual desktop infrastructure has been limited by disk access speeds and, for graphics-intensive applications, the graphics processing speeds available to each virtual session. Hyperconverged architectures like Nutanix overcome these problems by adding processing/storage/GPU nodes using a distributed, fault-tolerant design.
Each node contains locally attached SSD’s so that each virtual desktop session basically sees disks speeds similar to a normal desktop with SSD drives. Hyperconverged architectures do not see the bottlenecks of the SAN fabric and controllers which can limit IOPS and the scale-up of VDI sessions. Further information on Nutanix can be viewed in the video below.
Similarly with graphics processing requirements, nodes assigned to graphics-intensive applications contain cards like nVidia’s GRID K1 or K2 which enhance performance. The case study here illustrates this point.
2. Better protocols are available for transmitting graphics intensive screen images over the Internet.
In the beginning there was just Citrix’s ICA protocol, which was not suitable for graphics intensive sessions, but Citrix and VMware have since developed their graphics-optimised protocols HDX and PC over IP respectively. PCoIP was developed jointly by VMware and Teradici. Both transport the virtual desktop screen copy, and keyboard/mouse/audio, over the LAN or WAN and both are regarded as providing a similar user experience.
PCoIP has one significant advantage over Citrix however; the price of the PCoIP client devices. The PCoIP client is often called a zero client as it does not require an operating system (and a licence) as Citrix and Microsoft thin clients do – hence zero operating system. Citrix’s and Microsoft’s operating systems add significant cost to ICA or RDP thin clients. With the single purpose of image decompression and decoding, the PCoIP processor eliminates the need for an operating system. Teradici licences 30 manufacturers to produce zero clients:
'Anywhere, anytime'. The key point of remote access to all applications in business is that contributors and consumers can get access from anywhere in the world. Internet bandwidth is of course an important consideration.
As a rule of thumb, for more text-based applications 256kbps is required per user and 1Mbps for graphics intensive applications. Obviously, both the virtual desktop server farm and the end users must have fast Internet speeds, wherever they may be.
Fortunately speeds are increasing in Australia, both for wired Internet services such as ethernet over copper and fibre services and also wireless WAN services like the current 4G/LTE service. BES IT Systems has seen a surprising uptake in the number of businesses interested in improving their internet access and an equally surprising drop in cost and increase in speed of Internet services we are able to offer out clients. Although the NBN is not available to most businesses, it seems that its impending presence has caused better value Internet services to suddenly appear on the market and prices continue to fall.
For staff or contractors overseas, particularly in Asia where outsourcing is cost effective, speeds are also improving, as the graph below shows.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your business have decentralised staff you'd like to use for particular projects but their graphics-intensive applications have to either run centrally or need to be deployed remotely at great expense?
- Could you use an overseas contractor but the application you need him to use only runs locally?
- Therefore would VDI for project collaboration be useful for your company?
- Could your business offer unique skills to overseas customers but they presently cannot access your applications because they don’t run remotely?
At BES IT Systems we architect graphics-intensive VDI solutions for customers and assist them with ROI analyses. We would be happy to answer further questions you may have.
Contact John Dowd or Ingrid Taylor on 07 3340 5555 for more information.
Alternatively, drop us a web enquiry and we'll contact you.