I've loved Ardence since I first learned about them in 2006. If you don't know Ardence, they basically did disk block "streaming" where you take the hard drive out of a computer, do a PXE boot, and it connects to a central image which is run locally on the desktop. You get bare metal (i.e. no hypervisor) performance on your desktop, and with 100MB or 1GB networks and a bunch of drives and cache in your server, you can actually get better performance than a local disk.
The real advantage though is the central management, security, and the ease of reverting back to a stable state (or swapping out an image) just by rebooting the desktop. (It's like an instant version of Ghost, or a more secure version of Deep Freeze.) Again, check out that 2006 article for the details on the concept.
Unfortunately in December 2006, Citrix bought Ardence. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing—certainly it legitimized this "weird" concept—but over time Citrix evolved the solution into Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS), merged it into the XenDesktop and XenApp suite, and refocused it on virtual desktops instead of physical.
So for the past five years or so, a lot of us in the industry have longed for the old days when we could just buy PVS as a standalone product and use it for our desktops instead of getting wrapped up in the whole VDI / Citrix Suite thing.
And that's where Jentu comes in. Jentu is a new software company with a product that is essentially exactly what Ardence was in 2006. (And that's a good thing!)
Honestly there's not much more I can really say about them. I originally thought I was going to write 1,000 words about how awesome this is, but meh, if you know Ardence, you know Jentu. Their product is available now after having been something they originally wrote eight years ago to simplify the management of desktops they were responsible for while they were working at an MSP.
I love the idea of simplifying desktop management for the 95% of the world that isn't on VDI. Obviously this solution only works for on-premises machines that are on the same LAN as your file server, but for actual desktops and laptops used on site, I love this concept.
Jentu has a simple admin UI and you can get the whole thing up and running in a few hours:
When using Jentu, the local hard drive is not used at all—not even for a cache. You can literally remove the drives from your desktops. They support both persistent and non-persistent images, all connected by iSCSI on the backend, and they can map different volumes for different users for personal data.
Welcome to our world Jentu!