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HP Bumps Up Thin Client Virtualization With Citrix

Hewlett-Packard, in effort to enhance their client virtualization offerings, has teamed with Citrix Systems to improve the security and decrease the complexity of virtual desktop implementation. The new offerings in this virtualization package were officially announced at Citrix Synergy 2010.

Dave Courbanou

May 17, 2010

5 Min Read
HP Bumps Up Thin Client Virtualization With Citrix

HP 4320t Mobile Thin Client - Business Laptop and Tablet PCs

Hewlett-Packard, in effort to enhance their client virtualization offerings, has teamed with Citrix Systems to improve the security and decrease the complexity of virtual desktop implementation. The new offerings in this virtualization package were officially announced at Citrix Synergy 2010. Here’s a look at the new package and the upcoming technology…

Part of HP’s new offering involves a close working partnership with Citrix to increase the easy of implementation on the VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) for XenDesktop and XenServer on a mobile platform. The main impetus is to reduce the threat of data loss, and drop the overall cost of management. The final goal in mind is to make the stand-alone desktop a thing of the past, but make the stand-alone desktop experience quick and ubiquitous — everywhere. Is the idea of a mobile thin client useful? Read on…

With those goal in mind, HP has launched the HP 4320t Mobile Thin Client, which has been designed to hit security and reliability benchmarks needed for hardcore mobile workers. HP’s new thin client has been tweaked to enabled secure access to server-based virtual or blade PC VM solutions, but also provides the mobility of an actual laptop computers. Since all the data is stored on the server, this actually adds to the increased security ability. If the ‘mobile thin client’ is ever lost of stolen, there’s zero risk of data being lost.

The thin road warrior weighs in at 4.3 pounds, and has a snazzy brushed-aluminum metal finish. HP says it’s for “refined simplicity and durability with a clean appearance.” Plus, according to HP, there’s a spill-resistant keyboard and an integrated touch pad. For a thin client, it seems well stocked. A 13.3 inch LED screen, and HDMI port (great for presentations or connection to displays) and the option for 6 or 9 cell batteries. Windows Embedded Standard is pre-installed and packaged with HP Virtual Client Essentials to make it easy for IT staff to manage. There’s also optional USB-based storage, and IT pros can tweak whether or not there’s the ability to write data to the devices.

With that comes an extension of multimedia capabilities which Citrix is well known for. HP calls out Remote Desktop Protocol used by VMware and Microsoft for not supporting Adobe Flash natively. (Side note: Have you been tracking the Adobe Flash vs. Apple debate?)

HP says their new RDP enhancements for Adobe Flash redirection actually decodes and plays the Flash video, letting customers “enjoy enhanced productivity and communication benefits.”

And how does HP full this off? Flash gets re-directed and uses client-processors instead of the sever CPU, so the server stays stable and the user gets his data. HP says this will lower the total cost of ownership since it offloads servers and increase scalability (i.e. more users per server) but this blogger things it’ll just end up killing the battery life of the mobile thin client a little faster.

The unique VDI solutions that HP and Citrix has formed now supports…

“…more than 1,000 users of XenDesktop 4.0, XenServer 5.5 or Provisioning Server 5.1. It includes HP BladeSystem c-Class or HP ProLiant servers along with Flex-10 virtual connect technology, HP storage and networking, and a choice of HP t5740 or HP t5325 thin clients, depending upon end-user experience requirements. Each reference architecture can be scaled to meet changing business needs and can be complemented by a full portfolio of HP services including planning, implementation, support and hosting.”

So when can you get your hands on this thing? The 4320t mobile thin client is planned for release later in May of 2010. What’s more, if you’re intrigued, the HP RDP Enhancement package that redirects Flash is actually available for download as add-on for $15. No price tag was announced in the official press release.

Some of you may be wondering about if the mobile thin client is a game changer, so here’s a bit of my input for what it’s worth. As a former helpdesk tech, laptop management was a time consuming process. Besides the fact that loaner laptops were typically the most out-of-date machines the company had on hand, they were notoriously annoying since they required customization every time a user wanted to get one loaned out. User settings had to be tweaked and every hard drive was encrypted. The encryption software was notoriously finicky. If you had to re-image the hard drive and failed to uninstall the encryption software correctly, you completely ruined the drive. We sent quite a few back to Dell. They were friendly enough since we had extended warranties — but it was a huge time waster.

Enter the idea of the mobile thin client. IT Staff get a hold of the machines, tweak the VPN and global settings and they’re off to the races. No need for clumsy encryption software since the action happens server side. No need for custom-user settings, since the VM (presumably) is already customized. I can’t speak on behalf of the price tag, but this blogger feels it’s worth noting that this has the potential for some serious time-saving implications.

Maybe SMBs will have a hard time converting to the mobile thin client if they don’t already have an existing VM / Xen architecture to leverage, but for the enterprise, this may be a new trend.

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