As students and administrators seek anytime, anywhere access to the cloud, higher ed IT teams must face their fears and get to work.
The popularity of virtual desktops has been slowly rising over the past few years. IT departments are interested in centralized desktop management, but they are leery of issues such as application performance degradation or incompatibilities and less-than-rich computing experiences.
Technology company Teradici started one major innovation when it created its PC-over-IP protocol. PCoIP's broadcasting of only encrypted pixels (not data) across any standard IP network lets IT departments deploy zero clients free of standard CPUs, RAM, disks, fans and application operating systems. No client computing has to occur on the device; it just receives and decodes host-rendered pixels. The zero client approach offers many benefits to the IT department, including reduced desktop maintenance, better security and power savings.
Some of the more recent zero client products consolidate the display and PCoIP chip into one device, such as Samsung's 23.6-inch NC240 and 19-inch NC190-1 PCoIP monitors, as well as LG's 19-inch and 22-inch Zero Client monitors. Several months ago, Samsung added the NS190 and NS220 Thin Client monitors and the NS240 Cloud Display monitor to its zero client lineup.
One issue for PCoIP has been bandwidth utilization. "The user experience was good, but it was a bandwidth hog," says Laura Hansen-Kohls, a senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group.
VMware View 5.0, the software maker's recent version of its client virtualization product, features new PCoIP optimization controls. Kevin Schroll, a senior product marketing manager at Samsung Electronics, says these controls decrease bandwidth usage by up to 75 percent. Schroll adds that Samsung's monitors support the new optimization controls, which let IT staffs maximize bandwidth savings with a simple-to-use, all-in-one zero client device.
Centralized management and fewer system components all come in handy at college and university campuses, where IT resources and budgets are usually limited and space is tight.
Menlo College in California, which has conducted a campuswide client virtualization initiative using thin clients and monitors, has deployed 21 of Samsung's 19-inch NC190-1 PCoIP monitors to serve as an instructional computing lab in its library.
70% The percentage of enterprises that have adopted client virtualization and seen measurable cost reduction
SOURCE: Enterprise Management Associates
"An all-in-one device made sense for this small environment where we didn't want a lot of extra stuff hanging around on the table," says CIO Raechelle Clemmons. "And because it's one device instead of two, it's easier for us to lock down. It just simplifies things."
Easy-to-access USB ports and the option of pivoting the screen horizontally or vertically add to the attraction of Samsung's integrated solution, Clemmons says. But most important was that it integrates well with the rest of the college's VDI infrastructure.
"It operates the same as our other thin clients because of the Teradici chip, so there was no learning curve," Clemmons says. PCoIP has been the college's preferred VDI protocol because of better performance, especially for streaming video. "In an academic environment, faculty and students use streaming video like YouTube for a variety of reasons. So, it's important for virtual desktop users to have a good experience."