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Teradici has been focusing on technology that brings a
low-latency, fast and graphics-intensive experience to a desktop user, all
without having a PC nearby. The concept here is pretty simple—bridging a true
PC or workstation computing experience over the network using existing IP
technology (cables, switches, routers)—yet at the same time it’s a pretty tall
order in today’s traffic cluttered infrastructure. Teradici’s approach involved
developing a chip set and high-performance graphics compression algorithms that
make a PC over an IP network possible.

Shifting the burden of CPU processing
power back to the data center from the desktop offers several easy-to-identify
advantages, ranging from better control of expensive hardware, consolidation of
space and centralized hardware support. Yet those advantages only scratch the
surface of what Teradici has to offer a well-planned enterprise, many of which
were unthought-of during the product’s development.

To better comprehend what some of those
advantages are, one has to understand exactly what Teradici’s technology is or
isn’t.

Some classify what Teradici is doing as
thin-client computing, zero client technology, remote PC access and a host of
other names that don’t actually fit the Teradici mold. Teradici isn’t desktop
virtualization, and it is not a technology that allows users to share
virtualized machines; it also isn’t meant to be used as a remote (off-site)
access solution. So, what exactly is Teradici about and why is there so much
confusion about PC over IP (PCoIP)?

We looked at the company’s evaluation
kit, which included a TERA Host PCIe card, TERA
Portal, power supply, Teradici firmware, and various cables and connectors. The
goal of the hardware was quite simple: Install the TERA
PCIe host card into a PC; plug an Ethernet cable into the host card and then
plug the TERA Portal into the same subnet;
connect a monitor, mouse and keyboard; and then access the host PC remotely,
over IP via the TERA Portal.

The TERA
Host PCIe card works by interfacing with the host PC; the PC’s video output is
connected to the TERA Host PCIe card; and
the TERA Host Card handles converting video
and user interaction into a specialized form of IP traffic. The TERA
Portal speaks to the host PC over the IP network and handles displaying the
PC’s video and user I/O functions. The hardware is pretty slick and worked well
in our test environments.

We tried out the Host Card on several
machines, including an HP xw6600 workstation, an AMD Phenom II-based white box system and an Intel Core i7 based white box.  The product worked
flawlessly in each instance, and remote performance was excellent on our fast
Ethernet subnet.

Out of the box, the target audience for
the Teradici solution is for those users who need access to high-performance
PCs for CAD/CAM or other demanding work. The
idea is to provide those users with an acceptable experience, without placing
an expensive workstation at their desks.

There are a few direct advantages to that
scenario. First off, an expensive workstation PC is locked away safely.
Secondly, that PC can also be housed in a low-dust, low-heat server room that
offers stable electricity and local backup resources. That PC can also be
maintained by IT staffers in the data center, eliminating trips to the various
desks in the business.

Those are the obvious benefits here, but
there are many not-so-obvious advantages to the Teradici solution, which can
help secure computing environments.

Those benefits can materialize when integrators
consider rewiring the IP network, which would improve security, speed and
reliability. Simply put, data housed in IP traffic never needs to leave the
data center. What an integrator could do with the Teradici PCoIP system is
divide the network into two (or more) segments. The IP network in the data
center would be used to connect the host PCs to an internal (to the data
center) Gigabit Ethernet backbone, while the RJ-45 port on the Teradici host
card would be connected to a separate IP network, which would only be
responsible for delivering PCoIP traffic to the TERA
Portal. The PCoIP traffic is highly compressed, encrypted and proprietary,
preventing anyone from “sniffing” data packets from the subnet located at users’
desktops.

The PCs, located back in the data center,
will perform faster, thanks to the Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The security
advantages doesn’t end there—by eliminating the PC at a desktop/public location
it becomes much more difficult for data to be stolen. Those deploying the TERA
Portals should disable the USB ports on the
units, which effectively enforces a DLP
policy, where no peripherals can be plugged in to copy data. Also, without
physical access to the PC, hard drives cannot be stolen (for the data), CDs
cannot be burned (for copying data), and devices/software that capture data
cannot be installed.

Combining an isolated backbone with a
Teradici solution may very well be the best way to deploy DLP
in highly sensitive environments, without hampering productivity and still
giving users access to high-performance PCs.

Therein lies a big opportunity for solution
providers, who can create super-secure solutions that offer both physical and DLP
security. Those solution providers can make Teradici part of the puzzle, but
also participate in the re-engineering of the IP network, sell the high-performance
PCs for the data center, offer the peripherals (keyboard, monitor, mouse), and
integrate data center-based security appliances, define security policies and
provide the services to make it all work.

Currently, EVGA
is selling the Teradici hardware for $399 MSRP, making it somewhat expensive.
But if one was to consider the cost of securing the typical desktop for DLP
purposes, the price isn’t that excessive. Samsung also sells a 19-inch LCD
monitor, which incorporates the TERA Portal
hardware, at a street price of under $500.