The Data Center Desktop

Red Hat put the emphasis back on the desktop with the acquisition of Qumranet.

Being your “On the Desktop” columnist for the past year or so, gives me a unique perspective in the desktop space and my virtualization experience gives me somewhat of a diametrically opposed viewpoint to traditional computing. However, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Desktop virtualization is a hot topic — at the very least Red Hat seems to think so with its recent acquisition of Qumranet, a major player in the desktop virtualization space.

Red Hat recognizes that Qumranet’s desktop virtualization products bring a new shade of green to corporate enterprises by shifting the bulk of the power, administration, and troubleshooting to servers. Desktop virtualization is the next major frontier in this brave new go to green world.

So you’ve heard all the hype and promises before about desktop virtualization and you’re not buying into it? It might be time take another look. With Qumranet’s solution you can view bi-directional streaming video and audio at 30+fps (frames per second) for video conferencing or watching movies, have native color (32-bit) graphics, use multiple monitors, use USB devices locally, and perhaps the most compelling of all; you can enjoy bi-directional audio for use with IP telephony and soft-phones? (Yes, that means you can use your Skype account to make and receive calls).

Qumranet’s flagship product, Solid ICE (Independent Computing Environment), allows companies to host their Windows and Linux desktops in KVM (Kernel Virtual Machine) virtual machines on data center servers. Accomplished by using SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) — also a Qumranet product and hardware thin clients, Solid ICE brings you a rich desktop computing experience equivalent to that of a traditional desktop computer.

The real proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Go to Qumranet’s website and view the Solid ICE product demo. The first segment of this video demonstrates the Solid ICE product from the user’s perspective and the second half describes the administrative aspects. The host presents an honest overview of the technology from user logon, application launch, and native desktop speed to the use of four monitors, a live streaming video, and a real-time soft-phone call.

Solid ICE technology allows you to leverage your server hardware more efficiently than other desktop virtualization products too. Instead of having a dozen or so virtual desktops per server system, you can easily deploy from 25-50 virtual machines onto a quad core, 16GB RAM Virtual Desktop Server (VDS).

This new desktop virtualization technology comes in three parts: The VDS, the Virtual Desktop Controller, and a thin client computer. A VDS consists of a server or group of servers that house the KVM virtual machines. The VDC is a standard server system that supports up to 50 VDSs and provides you with a management interface, provisioning capability, and monitoring for your virtual desktop infrastructure.

The three primary benefits of this acquisition from Red Hat’s perspective are to provide a set of next-generation virtualization solutions to its customers, to increase its overall investment and presence in the virtualization marketplace, and to acquire and deploy a top-notch, scalable desktop virtualization solution. Qumranet’s benefits are multifold as well. Red Hat is a well-established leader in the marketplace; it’s profitable, known for its involvement in the virtualization community with an ongoing commitment to Xen until 2014, and a large, dedicated corporate customer base.

Qumranet’s products are solid, scalable, easy to use, and sought after in today’s lean and green business environment. Red Hat needs a viable virtualization technology they can call their own and Qumranet needs this high profile boost into the global market. I usually don’t welcome technology buyouts with such enthusiasm but this one makes sense, however, the real beneficiary of this marriage of innovation and market savvy will be you, the customer.

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