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“Thin” desktops (VDI and shared/remote desktop) form a major part of modern hosted IT solutions. I have been designing and installing desktop solutions for customers for a number of years now, and have seen the user experience get better and better along the way.

The thin desktop of the past would typically be a horrible grey Windows 95-esque experience that worked well until you opened a photo, came across some video on the Internet, or opened a sound file. This required a drop back to a local PC desktop which was a jarring and inconsistent experience. This has become a thing of the past, with the exception of HD video and 3D graphics.

High performance solutions
Over the last couple of years, Citrix and VMware have been strongly pushing the suitability of their desktop solutions (XenApp/XenDesktop and Horizon) for demanding environments. Whereas previously opening an HD video or 3D modelling package would result in a slideshow, you can now run almost all graphically demanding applications in the same desktop.

This has been made possible by the new generation of high performance servers (for example, an HP DL380 Gen9) using host CPU and/or shared graphics cards to encode the output at very high quality (similar to a Blu Ray encoder/decoder). This is then sent over low bandwidth connections, where it is decompressed by the client device (Thin client, PC, mobile device etc.) and displayed on the screen.

Seeing is believing
Being very much of the “I’ll believe it when I see it” persuasion myself, the results are genuinely impressive. nVidia (who manufacture the shared graphics cards) and Citrix have partnered to deliver a demo environment showcasing the technology, which I strongly recommend checking out here. Very good results can also be achieved with no additional graphics hardware.

All of this means that a single shared or virtual desktop can deliver every application a user would need, wherever they happen to be. A consistent and high quality user experience is key to the success of a desktop delivery (and by association, hosted infrastructure) project.

What’s holding you back?
If considerations around graphically-demanding applications are holding back your adoption of virtual or shared desktops, whether hosted offsite or on-premises, or if you would like to have a chat around user experience, please feel free to contact us on 01329 239900

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