I was thinking about remote protocols today after reading about the funding that Teradici received, and it occurred to me that we haven't heard anything about Net2Display lately.
Net2Display (link goes to article from 2007), a projected open standard display protocol from VESA, first showed up on the radar in late 2006 after a video engineering conference. There was ample speculation in the following year, but since late 2007, we haven't heard anything new. That begs the question, "Is Net2Display dead?" We don't even know where VESA left off with it, so it's hard to speculate whether or not it's tied up in politics, technological problems, or dead and gone. Still, I'll try :)
The political tie-up reasoning:
While some will argue that an open standard is good for everyone, there's going to be a group of folks that don't agree. In this case, that group consists of private companies that are either licensing or are really close to licensing their own product that would compete with that open standard.
Net2Display has (had?) several companies on it's committee, namely IBM, Teradici, DeskTone, Avocent, and VMware. Those names are the most recent list I can find, having come from an article by Brian from late 2007. In fact, Brian pulled those names from a PDF from 2006!
Times have changed for a lot of those companies. In addition to everyone feeling a bit more competitive in a slumping economy, new relationships have been formed - namely Teradici and VMware. With two of the main proponents of Net2Display working on their own partnership that would isolate VMware's product as the best remote display solution (remember, Citrix says their working on something, but nobody's seen anything), wouldn't it be in their best interest to keep that solution close to their vest?
Would a VMware/Teradici co-op be better for those companies than an open standard...probably. I could make an argument that everyone could benefit from it, actually. With an adequate solution out there, Microsoft and Citrix will have to amp up their development efforts, and we could find ourselves surrounded by some really amazing protocols.
The technological problems reasoning:
VESA could have put the wraps on this protocol a while ago if they just decided they wanted to have a hand in the game, but the fact of the matter is that this is a tough problem to solve. There are many limitations in the current technologies that are constants - no matter what you do to the protocol, they will always exist. That means for a new protocol spec to be created, the wheel needs to be re-invented.
Other companies are working on solutions, but a broad local and remote, fast connection and slow solution does not yet exist. If VESA is waiting for this, then that would explain the delay. The complexities of a solution that robust are astounding.
The dead and gone reasoning:
Of course, it could just be that VESA decided to bag the whole thing and leave it alone. Maybe they decided it was best to let the dust settle, then come back and choose a direction. As I said, no solution currently exists that addresses all the needs of a next-gen remote display protocol, so they could be waiting to see if a new technology or approach emerges that they can use to build a foundation for a new protocol. It's a great idea. Hell, in 2006, it was revolutionary, but maybe it's a victim of bad timing from conception, through competition, and into a bad economy?
It's also possible that nobody "decided" anything. The Net2Display initiative is being driven by a committee, since it's an open standard being developed, in part, by for-profit companies, there could be a lack of incentive to put noses to the grindstone in an effort to get something developed. It could just be lingering in limbo waiting for someone to take the bull by the horns.
If not Net2Display, what will the next standard be?
At this point, it's hard to tell. The relationship VMware has with Teradici could result in something, but something more pervasive might be necessary to become a "standard." That's where Microsoft comes in. With the inclusion of the Calista feature-set into RDP 7, it very well could become the new de facto standard. Details are sparse as to what that feature set will be, but it stands to reason something will be included in the final release of Windows Server 2008 R2. If Net2Display is going to be the standard, it better get something out to the community pretty quickly.
I could be 100% wrong about reasons behind the Net2Display silence. I'd love to see it still around and moving along at a nice pace, but it's just been so long since any new information has surfaced. If anyone has any information, or if anyone involved with Net2Display cares to share the status of the project, please feel free to email me or comment.