Skating on Solid ICE Desktop VirtualizationBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
Qumranet's Solid ICE aims to bring low-cost, hosted desktop virtualization to businesses via the KVM standard.
One of the most popular IT topics of late is virtualization. After all, virtual machines can help reduce the footprint of the data center and leverage processing power that would otherwise go unused. But the topic of virtualization has been rather one-sided, with everyone focusing on what the technology means to the server and the data center.
Qumranet is aiming to shift the conversation from the needs of the network to the needs of the user (and desktop administrator) with Solid ICE V4.1, a virtualization product based upon the KVM (Kernel-based Virtualization Machine) standard, which aims to virtualize desktop sessions.
In the simplest terms, Solid ICE offers remote PCs access to virtual desktops via a Web browser. The product is installed on a dedicated server running a Linux OS and then an administrator creates virtual PCs using the desktop operating systems and applications of his or her choice. Users then access those sessions via a compatible browser and have complete access to a virtual PC.
The advantages to that approach are many. Administrators have complete control of the desktop configuration and can easily "clone" configurations, deliver sessions on demand and back up user desktops much more easily than ever before.
With virtualized PCs, administrators no longer have to worry about maintaining the hardware and software of the actual client PC, as all the client PC needs is access to the network and a compatible browser. The benefits of the technology go on and on and should make both the bean counters and IT support staff happy campers.
There are some down sides, though. First off, the server has to be a hearty and powerful machine, with plenty of processing power and RAM, along with ample storage. That can make the server a very expensive piece of equipment (for our low-cost alternative, see "How to Build an Affordable Virtualization Server"). Secondly, users must have a persistent connection to the server to access their desktops. That limits use by remote or traveling users. Lastly, there is a significant performance penalty when running a virtual PC: While most lines of business applications and office suites will run fine, those looking to edit video or run CAD applications will want to avoid the virtual PC route.