Huge news from SIGGRAPH where Teradici just announced that customers can now buy just the PC-over-IP host software and install it as a Windows agent into any machine to get PCoIP-based remote access. Calling it "Teradici PCoIP Workstation Access Software," this is the news we've been waiting for since we learned that there was a software-only PC-over-IP encoder from Teradici way back in 2009.
*Okay, so there's on little catch: As of now this software is only available from Dell, and technically you're supposed to run it on Dell workstations, though the Dell's Andy Rhodes said really there was nothing stopping anyone from installing it in a VM as long as that VM was running on a Dell server.
But let's put that Dell thing aside for a minute. The big announcement here is that for 200 bucks a machine you can just buy PCoIP and install it wherever you want. No broker. No massive VDI platform with 100 features you don't need. No complexity. It's like remote desktop except with PCoIP. Roll your own VDI. Done!
In addition to being excited that this thing exists, I'm also excited that Teradici didn't go down the path of trying to build their own broker or gunk-ify themselves by becoming Yet Another Player in the VDI infrastructure space. The interesting thing is that now in 2014, there's still actually a lot of value in the remoting protocol (and clients)—mainly because the existing ones which are decent are locked away. (Citrix doesn't sell HDX, they sell XenDesktop and XenApp, the cheapest of which is like $300 and very restrictive. Must. Use. Our. Broker. You don't like it? Dont' use HDX. Bwa hah hahaa.. And there's Microsoft who really controls RemoteFX. And.. who else?) Citrix and Microsoft BYORP? Nope!
Right, so in 2014, a remoting protocol is actually pretty valuable, for those reasons above and for the fact that a lot of the "classic" features of MetaFrame / XenApp / VDI products of the past 15 years are just sort of baseline "built in" features of today's IaaS and PaaS environments. So if a vendor wanted to build a XenApp from scratch today they would really only need to figure out app publishing and a protocol. The rest can be (or should be) done by the infrastructure platform. (I'm looking at you Horizon 6!)
By the way this is not to knock VMware. To compete with XenApp today, VMware shouldn't try to build the MetaFrame of yesterday. They just need to tweak their existing cloud platform to deliver single published Windows apps. And if 99% of that "desktop" IP is in Vancouver, that's fine with VMware, because 100% of the "platform" IP is in Palo Alto, and that's the core business they're in.
I didn't forget about you Dell!
Ok, so back on the "this is only available from Dell" thing. I want to be very clear that I mean no disrespect to Dell. I mean congrats to them for not trying to build the Dell version of RGS. And yeah, it's great for them that buying standalone PCoIP is exclusive to them for now. Good win. But that said, the real story is we get standalone PCoIP.
The nitty gritty
In addition to Andy Rhodes, I also talked to Teradici's Dan Cordingley yesterday and asked a bunch of questions about Workstation Access Software. Rather than typing all this into paragraphs, I'll just do Q&A style here:
What? Why? Who?
They're aiming at SMB environments with high-end graphical workstations. (Digital FX, CAD/CAM, etc.) Andy said, "Hey, our Precision tower workstations have handles on them! People try to cart these things from room to room at offices." So this offering is a quick, 5-minute install that doesn't require anything on the back end to setup, and they view it as a value add for their existing workstation customers.
Does it work with a broker?
Today with v1, no. It's direct connect by name or IP address.
What clients are supported?
Existing Teradici Zero clients, plus they'll have client software Mac and Windows. iOS and Android will be coming soon.
Pricing and licensing?
$199 per desktop to buy a perpetual license. $40/year gets you maintenance and 24/7 support
What GPU does it support?
At one point they said NVIDIA GRID, though I also heard "any GPU" and we talked about VMs. I will clarify this and post an update here.
Is it exclusive with Dell?
For now, yes. In the future, who knows, but this announcement is about Dell.
Can you install this on a Dell server?
Yes. They're not making that an official validated supported option at this point, though they will in the future. But it will certainly work. They're going through testing and QA now. (Andy reminded me they also have their rack-based workstations which are officially supported.) Dell views that they don't have boundaries between the workstation and server brands—they just care that there's a Dell on the label.
Why is this bound to Dell?
Fundamentally Teradici doesn't want to be bound to anyone, but Dell was receptive and has been a good partner over the past year or so with their remote workstation hardware cards. This announcement is for a "Dell" product, with a Dell SKU, sold by Dell.