This morning Wyse released a brand-new software product called “Virtual Desktop Accelerator” (VDA). (product page | press release) VDA is a software-only WAN acceleration product that’s used to increase the performance and end-user experience of RDP or ICA over highly-latent connections, like 200ms+. The idea for VDA came from customers who were trying to use Remote Desktop and VDI sessions across the country or across an ocean.
VDA uses techniques similar to other WAN accelerators on the market, such as those from Expand Networks, Riverbed, or Citrix Branch Repeaters. However, Wyse claims that VDA is more appropriate for remote display protocol scenarios because (1) VDA is software-only, making it easier to use and install, and (2) VDA is purpose-built for RDP and ICA, while the other WAN acceleration products are general network acceleration products that just “happen” to work for remote display protocols.
VDA is meant for high-latency broadband connections. At 100 or 150ms latency, I couldn’t even really tell that VDA was there. But once you get to about 200 or 250ms, VDA really starts to shine. And even up to 400 or 500ms, a VDA connection is very usable, whereas ICA and RDP were not. Regardless of latency, Wyse wants a connection speed of at least 768kbps.
How VDA works
VDA is a software-only product. It is not a virtual channel for RDP or ICA, rather, it installs as a network proxy on both the client and the remote host, and it acts as a proxy for the entire protocol. (It uses port 3471 by default, although that can be changed.)
Right now the VDA client will run on any 32-bit Windows device, whether it’s an XP Embedded terminal or a standard PC. x64 support is coming soon. (I should also point out that VDA support is built-in to client devices running Wyse ThinOS.)
Why is Wyse doing this?
Wyse began as a terminal maker, and certainly that’s a bulk of their business today. As a terminal maker, they of course wanted to sell as many terminals as possible. They did a pretty good job with that, but there were still plenty of scenarios where the “cheap Dell” was beating out the terminal. So a few years ago they decided to jump onto the “embrace and extend” bandwagon and they started writing software products that could make thin client terminals useful in more scenarios. (“If you’ve already saturated your market, the only way to grow is to grow your market.”)
That effort led to the creation of TCX, a set of software extensions that gave RDP advanced capabilities like multimedia redirection, multi-display support, bidirectional audio, and USB redirection. (And as I’m painfully aware, USB redirection is still not in RDP 7.) Originally TCX was only available if the client devices were Wyse-branded thin clients, although in recent years they’ve opened that up. Now anyone can buy TCX for any environment, and in fact they’ve licensed some components of it to VMware which is now included in VMware View.
So that’s the motivation for this new VDA product. Fundamentally they want to make host-based computing easier to use, and thus VDA is a product which is available to anyone. The client can be a fat PC or thin client, Wyse brand or not.
What do you think?
Wyse VDA is available today, and a 30-day evaluation can be downloaded for free. (Click the “get it now” tab at the bottom of the main VDA product page.)