Dell is latest to unveil 'zero client' hardware for VDI

Its FX100 now supports PC-over-IP streaming

Jumping on the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) bandwagon, Dell has announced its first 'zero client' device aimed at large enterprises

The FX100 is an existing device that, through a firmware upgrade, now supports the new VMware View 4.0 app and its PC-over-IP streaming technology.

Created by Teradici, PC-over-IP technology purportedly offers better multimedia support and faster responsiveness than other virtualization and streaming codecs, such as Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

Though not the first vendor to unveil a zero client, Dell should make a big splash with this jump into a pool crowded with smaller companies and start-ups.

Zero clients are the evolutionary successor to thin clients with even fewer chips inside.

The FX100, for instance, has no CPU and no hard disk drive, and only enough memory "to boot the device," said Robert Ayala, the solution marketing manager for Dell's commercial client group. That enables zero clients to draw less power and be more secure and less prone to hardware failure than thin clients or traditional "fat client" desktop PCs converted over to VDI use.

Ayala said the FX100 is just as stripped down as competing hardware from start-up Pano Logic Inc., which claimed last week to be the only true zero-client vendor.

Other vendors touting zero-client hardware include Wyse Technology Inc. and ClearCube Technology Inc.

Despite the FX100's minimalist specs, pricing starts at $500 per device.

"The reality is that with almost every vendor, you're going to pay the same upfront" as you would for a regular desktop PC, Ayala said. "The benefits are in lower [total cost of ownership] down the road."

Is it VDI's time?

The FX100 was previously paired only with a Dell Precision rack workstation in a PC-blade application-streaming architecture that is generally considered an evolutionary step between plain remote access, a la Microsoft Terminal Services and Citrix XenApp (formerly Presentation Server, and MetaFrame before that), and new-fangled VDI rollouts.

While VDI still has the server-only limitations of Terminal Services (for example, there's no access when the Internet connection is down), it offers a more personalized, flexible interface to end users.

That's key to getting buy-in from mainstream information workers who have generally rebelled when presented with tools that they perceive as crippled, second-class substitutes for fully enabled laptops or desktop PCs.

Some supporters think that 2010 will be the year VDI goes mainstream, while others are skeptical.

"It's crazy to think that huge swaths of people will use VDI who aren't already," wrote independent analyst Brian Madden last month.

While Madden conceded that "huge swaths of people" could benefit from the manageability and security of VDI, he said IT managers who wait until later this year will be rewarded by the release of new client virtualization software from both Citrix Systems and VMware. Those offerings could deliver the security and manageability of VDI, plus the speed of locally installed software.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?