One week after Austin, TX-based Virtual Bridges Inc. announced that IBM is using its flagship VERDE solution to provide virtual desktop management and provisioning capabilities for the IBM Cloud Service Provider Platform, Chelmsford MA based Desktone Inc. today announced two major steps forward on the road to ubiquitous public cloud-based virtual desktops – The release of Desktone 3.0, and its partnership with Rackspace Hosting to provide public cloud-based virtual desktops for just $1 per day.

Desktone 3.0 offers a pragmatic mixture of new features targeting both potential users of cloud-based virtual desktops and cloud service providers. Aimed squarely at potential virtual desktop users is the now almost obligatory support for Apple’s iPad and iPhone, as well as providing enterprise VPN integration support for remote enterprise employees. Also aimed at enterprise users in Desktone 3.0 includes support for Linux virtual desktops.

Cloud service providers are likely to be tempted by Desktone’s inclusion of support for both Citrix XenServer and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization to add to the existing support for VMware vSphere. Cloud service providers will also welcome support for Citrix’s HDX and HP’s RGS remote display protocols. Of the two, support for HDX is likely to receive the most interest, however Desktone have not licensed HDX directly from Citrix, leaving this responsibility in the hands of cloud service providers who can choose to license HDX from Citrix either as a means of providing differentiation from other cloud service providers, or as a value added service for customers with more demanding requirements. Desktone have not forgotten localization support either, offering extended localization via the Desktone Web console which allows for administration in 20 languages, including newly added support for French, German, Spanish, simplified Chinese, and Japanese.

Along with the launch of its new platform, Desktone has announced that it is entering into the Rackspace Hosting Partner Network to provide the Desktone Cloud, a new service offering providing cloud-based virtual desktops for as little as $1 per day. Desktone’s $1 per day service (the minimum billing unit is monthly, not by the day) includes desktop OS licensing costs for Windows 7 Enterprise and Linux, but excludes applications, and provides a virtual desktop with access to 2 GB memory, 25 GB disk storage, and both RDP and RGS support. Support for additional features including additional memory and advanced printing capabilities are available for a small increase in service charges. The cloud-based virtual desktop can offer significant advantages over enterprise hosted virtual desktop technologies. Providing flexible capacity on demand without any upfront capital expenditure or long-term commitment. However it should be noted that public cloud-based services are not without their disadvantages. As the distance between consumer and service provider increases so do the effects of network latency, ultimately limiting the distance over which it is possible to provide an effective service. While the use of more efficient remote display protocols can address some of these challenges they do not present a universal solution especially when dealing with distributed data sources. From this perspective Rackspace does appear to be a good partner, with six data centers in North America, two in Europe, and one located in Hong Kong. This is insufficient to provide truly global coverage, but it does provide generally acceptable coverage for much of the northern hemisphere. In addition to Rackspace, the Desktone Cloud Platform also powers cloud offerings delivered by other leading service providers including IBM, Verizon, Infosys, Marubeni, Molten Technologies and BTS.

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Simon Bramfitt (135 Posts)

Simon is an independent industry analyst covering enterprise desktop, mobile and application virtualization, delivery and management technologies.

He is an experienced solutions architect with unmatched insight into the challenges of designing large (200,000 seat plus) high availability presentation and desktop virtualization systems.

Simon was invited to join the Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) group in May 2010 and joined the Virtualization Practice in September 2010

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