Each year, Brian and I have the honor of picking the winners of the Best of VMworld award for the End User Computing category. This year, there were many different types of EUC vendors to pick from (each vendor had to enter themselves and had to have a shipping product to be eligible to win), and as usual we had a hard time picking the winners. The group included entries from Liquidware Labs, AppSense, Stoneware, Stratodesk, and Teradici, but in the end we could only pick one product and two runners-up to win.
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Best of VMworld 2013 Desktop / EUC Winner: Lakeside Software Systrack Resolve
With SysTrack Resolve, you can now gain insight into your physical and virtual desktops to help find the source of problems. Resolve compares processes on troublesome machines with other machines that are performing well to identify anomalies, including things like remote protocol issues or login script problems. It can even tell you how long users aren't working while waiting out performance issues, or what applications get the most attention from each of your users.
The one thing that never ceases to amaze me with Lakeside Software is that they continually find useful ways to slice up all the data they can collect. From Systrack Virtual Machine Planner (which helps you plan a virtual desktop solution based on real data from your environment) to Systrack Marketplace (which runs that same data through reference architectures and best practice algorithms from hardware, storage, and networking vendors), they have many products to learn what specific combination of hardware and software you need for your project. We chose Resolve because of its unique feature set, but it's really about all that Lakeside can do with the information they collect!
We also really like that Lakeside's products are Windows products, not virtualization products. You can use Resolve for your physical desktops and laptops, RDSH servers, VDI sessions, streamed environments, persistent and non-persistent, etc. We're big fans of viewing all Windows desktops in a company as a common platform, and we love that Resolve works across and unifies them all.
Runners Up: Greenbytes IO Offload Engine and Atlantis ILIO Persistent VDI 4.0
Storage optimization was the topic du jour this year, and many companies were showing off their solutions. This (along with graphics) is the hottest topic in VDI this year, so it was hard to pick one of these solutions over the other. Both Atlantis and Greenbytes take a software approach to storage optimization, which is great for companies struggling with storage constraints since they can simply plug this solution into their existing environment. Each of our two runners up takes a slightly different approach, but at the end of the day they both make the VDI user experience much closer to that of a native desktop.
They do this using a combination of single instance, block level storage and in-line deduplication. With single instance storage, only differences between machines (plus one master chunk of data that's the same for everyone) is live on physical storage, which drastically reduces the amount of storage space needed for VDI environments. Inline deduplication means that this happens on the fly, rather than after the data is written. Ultimately, it means that we need less storage to provide a better experience to our users—persistent or non-persistent—the perfect combination!
Judges' Choice: NVIDIA Grid
The Judges' Choice award is reserved for a company that, for whatever reason, wasn't involved in the deliberations. The overall judges have the option to pick a single "Judges' Choice" award for the entire show. This year it happened to be in the EUC space, and thrilled to have it be a solution that we think so highly of. We've written and talked about how Grid solves the other big problem in desktop virtualization today—that graphics performance has never been close enough to that of a native desktop. Receiving this award is unique because it didn't just have to impress Brian and I, but also the rest of the panel of judges, each of whom has a focus on something other than desktop virtualization.
NVIDIA Grid solves the graphics performance problems associated with desktop virtualization by actually virtualizing GPUs for use with VDI desktops, delivering a slice of a physical GPU to each user. From the virtual machine's perspective, they each have their very own "real" GPU with full 3D graphics capabilities. That means that there are no compromises made to display those graphics in remote desktop sessions. While other solutions over the years have made it possible to run 3D applications, they often weren't good enough for the actual users of those applications. With Grid, those apps behave exactly as the end users expect.
Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to our Best of VMworld 2013 winners. (Check out the slide show on SearchServerVirtualization.com for the full list of winners in all the other categories for 2013.)