It's been over a year since Citrix first demoed "Project Apollo," their solution for remoting Vista Aero glass to clients. Displaying Vista Aero glass over a remote display protocol like ICA or RDP is complex, because Aero requires a GPU to render the complex graphics. (It's not as simple as just enabling the "themes" service like when you wanted to add the Windows XP Luna experience to a Windows 2003 Terminal Server.) This is essentially impossible in a multi-user Terminal Server enviroment, since each session would require its own GPU. (Sure, maybe you could pop a graphics card into your server, but best case that'd just give you Aero in a single session--and that's assuming that you had a remote display protocol that could support it.) Microsoft is rumored to be working on an Aero remoting solution for Terminal Services based on the Calista technology they acquired earlier this year, but so far nothing official has been announced.
But until something can be done for multi-user Terminal Servers, today's solutions for remoting Aero glass are based on 1-to-1 deployments. In other words, a real physical PC with a local graphics card / GPU (either in desktop or blade form factor) will live on the back end, and a thin client or workstation client will connect in a 1-to-1 VDI-like way.
Several vendors support 1-to-1 Aero solutions today, including Teradici and hp's RGS. So far, Citrix hasn't offered anything here (because even with Citrix XenDesktop connected 1-to-1 to a Vista host, ICA couldn't support Aero). But Project Apollo will change that, and for the past few months, it's been available for private beta testing. (Interested? Check out the Project Apollo website, where the Tech Preview 2 is now available.)
Apollo seems pretty cool. (YouTube Video) In addition to Aero (which is nice eye candy, but not really useful), Apollo supports OpenGL and DirectX applications and is really designed for CAD and medical imaging applications.
Does anyone have hands-on experience with Apollo in the real world yet? Share your thoughts below.
Apollo will ultimately be made available as an add-on to Citrix XenDesktop, since that's Citrix's 1-to-1 solution. Will it ever make it to XenApp for Terminal Server? Perhaps, but that's a larger GPU / TS architectural challenge, and we'll probably have to wait to see what Microsoft does with Calista and TS moving forward.
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