Ulteo has taken advantage of the Guacamole project’s Open Source RDP client technology to provide a native HTML5 client for the Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop (OVD) presentation virtualization solution for Windows and/or Linux desktops, which we recently reviewed.

Given widespread support in browsers for HTML5 – including support in Internet Explorer 9 onwards, and continuing concerns over the security of non-native browser techologies such as Java and Flash, these technologies are now being deprecated by many organizations in favour of HTML5.  HTML5 offers the opportunity to render complex images inside a browser through a “canvas” element which is embedded into the usual DOM structure.The Open Source project Guacamole renders both RDP and VNC remote desktop access protocols into HTML5.

Ulteo has recently consolidated its OVD to use RDP to access both Windows and Linux Desktops. HTML5-based RDP technologies are also emerging in commercial products such as Ericom AccessNow reviewed for us by Andrew Wood. For an extensive review of the positioning and benefits of HTML5 it is worth  reading that post.

HTML5 clients typically deliver less function than standard clients, they are slower and the browser itself remains part of the experience to the end-user. However HTML5 can work better in occasional useage scenarios than native clients because you don’t need to prepare the user in advance for the experience of accessing the system. They are are a simple way of delivering legacy Windows user interfaces into Bring Your Own Desktop (BYOD) without dependencies on clients running particular software or browser plugins or plugin versions being installed. They have application in the margins of the enterprise and in Software as a Service (subject to appropriate Microsoft Licencing if you are rendering Windows desktops). They should also work in HTML5-enabled browsers on tablets and smartphones, so it is possible to provide Windows desktops to casual users whichever device they use to access the web site, including Chromebooks where you can’t install anything.

We noted in our review of Ulteo OVD that it is perhaps more comparable to Ericom than to Citrix, and this additional feature now present in both companies’ solutions enhances that comparison. It also shows the ability of Ulteo to leverage third-party Open Source development to quickly add features without having a huge development team at its disposal.

The Ulteo HTML5 client sits alongside its existing Java client for browsers, and native clients for Windows, Linux and Android and iPhone.  The last two are additional paid-for modules – the base product is available for free download. The HTML5 client is currently in its first Beta phase and licencing model and pricing hasn’t been announced at this stage.

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Mike Norman (104 Posts)

Dr Mike Norman, is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Open Source Cloud Computing. He covers PaaS, IaaS and associated services such as Database as a Service from an open source development and DevOps perspective. He has hands-on experience in many open source cloud technologies, and an extensive background in application lifecycle tooling; automated testing - functional, non-functional and security; digital business and latterly DevOps.

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