Road to VMworld 2013

Teradici and the DNA Behind Its Virtual Desktops

Ziad Lammam, director of product management for desktop solutions at Teradici, sat down recently with Virtualization Review to discuss market trends and his company's technology.

Ziad Lammam, director of product management for desktop solutions at Teradici, sat down recently with Virtualization Review to discuss market trends and his company’s technology.

Lee Pender, for Virtualization Review: Please give us a little background on Teradici.

Ziad Lammam: The DNA behind Teradici over the last nine years has been about developing virtual desktop solutions that allow our customers to remotely access their desktops with a really great user experience. We started the company off with the goal of getting into the remote workstation and virtualization space. Our intention was to focus on a protocol that handles full-resolution images, videos, graphics and text and is tuned to modern desktop usage. Today’s desktop users interact with a variety of content including accessing media, moving through presentations and scrolling through large PDF files that have high-quality text or image content.

Many modern computer users have two or more monitors and a lot of things on the desktop. I know I have dozens of windows open all the time, and the protocol that we developed enables us to handle all of the different image content on the desktop efficiently. Teradici’s goal was to be very flexible in how we adjust to different network conditions, so that we can operate on local or wide area networks. The protocol delivers desktop content to a client device on the user’s desk or to a mobile device like a laptop or tablet. Since 2009, we’ve been partnered with VMware to develop and provide the PCoIP protocol for VMware Horizon View. This solution delivers virtual desktops to users in education, government, healthcare, retail and many other vertical markets around the world.

As a corporation, Teradici has a lot of expertise in image compression, networking, software development and hardware development. These competencies allow us to expertly deliver protocol and other technology components for the desktop virtualization and remote workstation space.

VR: Your most prominent technology is called zero client. Could you explain what that is and how it works?

Lammam: The Teradici PCoIP Zero Client is our most well-known product. It is a small footprint device that allows you to remotely connect to your desktop. Zero clients are available in many form factors, but the most popular ones are standalone desktop devices or devices integrated into the monitor. The goal is to have the bare minimum components needed to access your desktop securely and with very little management. While you don’t have a lot of components in the zero client, with Teradici PCoIP Zero Clients, you’re able to access the full performance of your desktop. We accomplished a high-performance user experience by developing the Teradici decode processor. This purpose-built hardware solution delivers a higher pixel throughput than even high-end thin clients. This new performance level immediately met the bar of a full range of customers, from office worker to power user.

Teradici PCoIP Zero Clients provide a rich user experience, but additionally, they offer a new weapon in the ongoing battle for more secure computing. The need for advanced security features resonates in every sector of the market, especially in government and healthcare. These users are looking for ways to replace the desktop with something that resists tampering and data removal or snooping. The Teradici PCoIP Zero Client offers a desktop device with no browser, no Windows OS nor local data storage. There is no need to worry about patching or updating the client with operating system updates, or spyware patches. It really does give you that bare minimum attack surface.

VR: What are some of the other benefits of zero clients?

Lammam: In a regular PC or a thin client, you’ll find a CPU, general purpose RAM, potentially a graphics card, storage and an application operating system. What we did in the zero client is to replace all of these components with the Teradici PCoIP processor, a small amount of memory, and a very small storage area for the firmware. With Windows on your laptop, your operating system occupies roughly 20-30 GB of storage. On a thin client that’s running Windows Embedded 7, the storage requirements are generally 2 to 4 GB. As you can imagine, both of these require significant updates and the Windows operating system is prone to attacks. With the zero client, however, the footprint is tiny. The storage needed for the small amount of zero client firmware is only 4 MB. This really minimizes the available attack surface. Even that piece of firmware, which manages the chip, isn’t accessible to a user the way an operating system would be. Therefore, unauthorized access is even harder to obtain.

Another one of the key benefits is the underlying platform of the zero client. It’s very similar to a home router. You basically plug it in and you’re good to go. Plug it in, and you are up and running within minutes. It doesn’t require much in terms of setup or maintenance.

There are a few more benefits also gained by using zero clients. Firstly, virus protection is not needed. In many thin clients, you still need local virus protection because they’re running Windows. Secondly, the zero client offers a performance difference, typically 5x or more, above that of a thin client. Another thing that really pops out is the power savings. The zero client consumes very little power and is an ideal green device. In fact, in our latest generation, the power consumption is down to 6W vs. a PC that typically consumes 120W of power or more.

To learn more about Teradici PCoIP Zero Clients, please go to:www.teradici.com/zeroclient


About the Author

Lee Pender is the executive features editor of Redmond magazine. You can reach him at lpender@redmondmag.com or follow him on Twitter.

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