What's hp going to do with RGS?

I've written quite a bit about remote computing protocols over the past few months. In a world that's been dominated by RDP and ICA for a decade, it looks like a lot will be shaken up over the next 6-12 months.

I've written quite a bit about remote computing protocols over the past few months. In a world that's been dominated by RDP and ICA for a decade, it looks like a lot will be shaken up over the next 6-12 months. Certainly a lot of people are buzzing about Qumranet's (now Red Hat's) Spice protocol and Teradici's PC-over-IP, both of which are capable of delivering near-perfect remote desktop experiences, including multimedia and two-way audio. And then there's Microsoft's Calista and VESA's Net2Display, both of which have huge potential but neither of which we know much about. And we can't forget some of the smaller vendors who are making specific add-ons and improvements to RDP. Wyse has something called TCX, where they've added multimedia redirection and propoer multi-monitor support to RDP. (They've also OEMed this to VMware for VDM.) Quest Software's Provision Networks division has added or enhanced so many of RDP's virtual channels that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the different between it and ICA. (Except of course the fact that the Quest solution is about 1/4 the price of a Citrix solution.)

And then there's hp, with their RGS (Remote Graphics Software) protocol. A lof people have traditionally thought (myself included in the early days) that RGS was an extension to RDP. It's not. RGS is a 100% independent protocol for remoting graphics. It works by leveraging the remote host's processing capabilities and essentially turning the entire remote desktop into a streamed video, and it handles remote video and audio with ease. A side-by-side comparison of watching a moive via RGS versus RDP shows RGS is the clear winner. And RGS has some advantages over the protocols that simply "redirect" multimedia (Citrix ICA, Wyse's TCX, or what Quest is planning with RDP) because the RGS solution doesn't require that the specific multimedia codecs match on the client and the server.

So hp finds themselves with a nice little piece of technology without a real home. Sure, hp's managed to find some novel uses for it. They've bundled it in with their VDI and several thin client offerings. (Using RGS is as simple as installing a "remote sender" agent on the host, be it a terminal server for VDI workstation instance.) And hp is using it to connect to the consoles of guest VMs running on the embedded versions of XenServer on their Proliant servers. (Which, in-and-of-itself, is a really cool idea. It's almost like the servers with embedded Xen have an RGS-driven "virtual KVM" built right in. None of this BS about configuring a separate management server and all that.)

But apart from that, what can hp do with RGS? RGS looses value with every passing day as other vendors add features and functions to their protocols and start to meet or exceed what hp can do. But what would the point be for hp to invest more in RGS? It already does fine enough for remote guest console access to XenServers.

hp's RGS challenge is something I've been thinking about for awhile. I was specifically motivated to write this article based on a press release that came out while I was on vacation. It said, in a nutshell, that ClearCube spinoff VDIworks had licensed hp's RGS technology as the display protocol for VDIworks' new product. Maybe this is where RGS is destined to go? Maybe hp can license or OEM it to as many people as possible before some of these other protocols hit the street?

Of course if Red Hat does open source Spice (which is a personal fantasy of mine, not a rumor), then hp might as well just open source RGS, because its commercial value at that point would be essentially zero.

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When do you think that Red Hat will release SPICE back into the world?  Would they just open source the protocol or the whole virtual desktop package?

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First I want to clarify again that this is a fantasy, not a rumor or even a prediction.

All I was saying is that since Red Hat seems most interested in Qumranet for the KVM thing, if they don't really care about Spice, then why not just let us have it?

I doubt this will actually happen though.

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When we investigated RGS they were kind enough to tell us that in order to make use of the RGS software you needed to run the receiver component on HP hardware only.  This makes it an immediate no go in our environment.  We are not an HP shop now and no one was interested in purchasing a second vendor's hardware simply for this purpose.
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The problem with SPICE/RGS and the likes are they fall over completely when used in a WAN or even semi-hostile network.  Have you seen RGS on even a 10 Mbit network?  Screen goes red with a big X.
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Just because a technology is released to Open Source does not make a competing technologies value nearly zero.  The opposite can occur, it can bolster the value.  Brian, you should really look at Open Source more closely. 
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That's not actually true. RGS can function very well on a 10Mbit link. The codec is actually very network-frugal for a "screen-scraper". The Red X is displayed if the ping time exceeds a preset (and adjustable) duration, due to network congestion. This was actually an added feature so that people that relied on having up-to-date screen contents (e.g., Financial Traders) would be alterted if there is a network failure.
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This is no longer true :) If you contact HP, on a case by case basis, you can get the RGS Software to run on existing non-HP servers...
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Can it function  in a WAN link?  DSL speeds?  How does it do with let's say about 50 ms latency?  Higher?
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I concur. It was somewhat amusing to me to see this year's trend at BriForum to be "faster protocols," only to find out that they are only faster if you can live with fatter. If they aren't WAN friendly the work places I am in won't be that interested.
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Since Brian plugged our RDP enhancements, I thought I'd post a link to a video demonstrating our RDP Graphics Acceleration that will be on display next week at VMworld.  This absolutely works over low bandwidth connections, as the only connection I have to the Internet is my Verizon Wireless card. I used NetLimiter Pro to further restrict my available bandwidth to 128kbps and 56kbps for testing. 


http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/09/11/comparing-rdp-61-on-vista-sp1-to-quest-rdp-graphics-acceleration/

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Sharin - thanks for the update.  I can once again attempt to contact HP although in our region they've been less than helpful in regards to sales and demonstrations.  Of course I'm still not keen on the "case by case" basis, but it's better than a "no case" basis.
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We have, as we tested the HP and Wyse boxes.  In a VDI environment, the Wyse TCX software completely eliminated the overhead of the media from the server, successfully moving it to the client (seriously, the CPU utilization went to nearly zero while the video was playing).  In RGS, we found it taxed the server heavily, reducing the number of users we could support.  While RGS is better than naked RDP (and what isn't?) it was not as good, in our testing, as Wyse's on the two things that mattereded most to us -  the ability to play full screen, full frame rate video, while preserving server power.  I guess if I ran a company that made servers, though, I'd do the same thing.... 
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It has been tested in scenarios with significantly greater than 100ms latency and those customers have generally found performance to be very acceptable. As with all things, though, it depends on exactly what the user is doing/expects and what the latency looks like vs time (i.e., std deviation around the mean latency).


 On the Bandwidth end of things, I know quite a few people at HP that use it from home (via DSL) to connect in to their work computer. Works great for them / their workload.

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Depends on what kind of content you are playing, I believe. Wyse does a good job with some Codecs, no question about it, but not definitely all codecs. I wonder about Flash, as well...
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Brian,


I assure you RGS has its own set of limitations. Enterprise customers who have tried it from home concur it's just as bad as standard RDP.


I'm actually impressed by Patrick Rouse's video demonstration. Is this for real?


T.

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I assure you that it is real, as it I have several customers using it, one that is planning their deployment 30,000 virtual desktops across 110 sites. We will be demonstrating it live for customers at VMworld the day after tomorrow.


This demo is even more compelling:


http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/09/12/quests-rdp-acceleration-is-amazing/

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The RGs proocol is the Most robust beucause it has limitted functulationing and focues os specific end use cases "open GL/Bitmap remoteing. ICA and Provision Networks in my have not been challended by this.   It is not the only solution and they sertainatly dont sell it that way.  Frankly I have been in the lab, using XP Pro where ICA was equal to the personfance of RGS,  I a have not gotten to see Provisions inhancements in the same light.  To me the end user experiance it the only that matters.  Give me an alternatlive to CItrix ICA I and I will SIT THE HELL UP AND LISENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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RGS is one thing and other shave their ways to do the same too. Take a look at IBMs DCV and you have another 3d graphic protocol. The question is what will win in the end and it is a gambling thing to decide what will be the protocol to decide for right now....


And there is still some work for everyone to run these protocols over WANs.... at least that is my opinion.

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The real value of RGS is when it is used on physical machines such as blade workstations.  This gives the users the best performance.  This is where RGS was designed to function, adding it to a virtual machine as the remoting protocol was an after thought.
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Because Spice is crap. Any graduate student can hack a protocol, but it needs to stand the test of time and network conditions.
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One thing that you need to keep in mind is that RGS is designed to optimize the user experience from the start but it can still work sweet up to 200 - 250 ms latency.


As far the bandwidth is concerned then this is where you need to remember that as with ICA and RDP the bandwidth consumed will be bursty by nature and at any particular time will be dependant on the amount of user interaction and other things like printing?

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According to this blog posting http://community.citrix.com/blogs/citrite/derekt Citrix is claiming to support graphics on the WAN with this new desktop technology. Has anyone tried it?
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@ Sharin Yeoh


How did you get them to give up an unlocked RGS version.


I just spent about an hour on the phone with over 5 of the stupidest Tech Support and sales people on the planet.


ME: "I am trying to obtain a trial copy of some software"


HP: "Do you have serial number for computer?"


ME: "No, I don't have a problem with my ocmputer, I want to get an evaluation copy of HP Remote Graphics Software"


HP: "Let me transfer you"


ME: "I am trying to obtain a trial copy of some software"


HP: "Do you have serial number for computer?"


ME: "No, I don't have a problem with my ocmputer, I want to get an evaluation copy of HP Remote Graphics Software"


SEE THE PATTERN..... I hate those guys.


Anyways, I am excited about HP RGS because it uses VirtualGL and TurboVNC solution and is the only windows based sender I can find.  But they are definitely deep-sixing this product by forcing HP hardware for eve nthe evaluation/trial copy.


I saw that VDIworks offers it with their software, but not until version 1.2 and their free trial download is stuck on 1.0.4 !!!!!!


Anyone have any help here?


We wnat a software based solution that lets us remotely do 3D animation and HD video editing, so our heavy duty workstations, render farm, file server, etc. can all be at the same location but not necessarily our team.


Best,


Jim


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