After leaving many of the VDI crowd feeling unloved during the vSphere launch announcement, VMware has more than made amends with the pre-announcement of new PCoIP performance enhancements that will ship in VMware View 5.0.
One of the reduced criticisms of View, and one of the most frequent weapons used against it, has been the relatively poor performance characteristics of PCoIP across high latency low bandwidth WAN connections. Until today, VMware has been following the standard line of denying there is a problem until you are able to solve it. Now, solution in hand Vittorio Viarengo, VMware’s head of all things desktop (officially Vice President, End User Computing)is willing to share Gartner’s perspective on View’s strengths and weaknesses.
Challenge defined, VMware is responding with three new PCoIP performance enhancements:
- An update to the lossless CODEC to improve support for Clear Type fonts – PCoIP has never handled text as efficiently as it does graphical images and despite all the HD video-based demonstrations seen at trade shows typical VDI users interact with text based applications in Windows far more frequently than they browse YouTube (one would hope so anyway). The new CODEC promises significantly improved performance when handling text.
- Implementation of client-side caching – This is arguably the most important new capability that PCoIP will offer. A basic feature of other remote display protocols, PCoIP does not today support client-side caching. Lack of caching support can result in a very significant increase in data transmission, as pages are continually resent to whenever a swaps between screens.
- The ability to disable build to lossless – PCoIP build to lossless was introduced as a significant differentiators between it and other remote display protocols, however it did so at the the expense of increased bandwidth utilization, and for a small percentage of users reports off dissatisfaction with the perceived of individual VDI sessions. Disabling build to lossless will result in further bandwidth reduction, at the expense of a slight reduction in image quality. Not so much build to lossless, as build to perceptual lossless.
Together VMware claims that enabling these three new features can result in a reduction of bandwidth of up to 75%, reducing PCoIP bandwidth requirements to approximately 70% of that required by RDP 7. This is still more than an equivalent Citrix HDX connection would require, but enough enable Citrix to counter any serious arguments against PCoIP protocol performance. What was missing from today’s announcement was any indications that the new client-side caching capability would be supported by third-party WAN accelerators. VMware is still at a significant disadvantage compared to Citrix whose Branch Repeater in now in its 6th generation.
As I reported previously, VMware did not have the best of times with the launch of vSphere. Announcing, and then at, or possibly after, the last minute dropping View Accelerator from the launch and then having to run around to tidy up loose ends after the fact. Hopefully it won’t have the same troubles this time around. Delivering a fully featured new release to View will give it the opportunity to reestablish itself after past missteps with the late delivery of View 4.5.