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Dell Taps Unidesk for VDI Management

Dell is expanding its Desktop Virtualization Solutions portfolio by teaming with Marlborough, Mass.-based Unidesk, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) management software startup.

The move is the latest in Dell's ongoing VDI refresh. In March, Dell debuted a DVS Simplified Appliance powered by Citrix's VDI-in-a-Box software. Aimed at modest VDI environments, the appliance is based on a rack-mount PowerEdge R710 server. It runs Citrix VDI-in-a-Box v5.0 and Citrix XenServer v5.6 SP2 with the hypervisor, virtual machines and management software components pre-installed for rapid deployment.

For IT shops charged with big VDI setups, Dell now offers Unidesk's technology to DVS Enterprise customers. DVS Enterprise ties together 12G PowerEdge servers with the company's networking components, storage arrays, thin clients and VDI software from Citrix or VMware for integrated, pre-configured VDI packages.

The combination of server innovations like Fluid Data Architecture and its data center-grade IT systems yield enterprise VDI platforms that can scale from 50 seats to thousands of seats, according to Dell. Dell and Unidesk VDI Now that the infrastructure and VDI software elements are in place, Dell is turning its attention to the management piece of the puzzle.

Layered VDI Approach

Unidesk's VDI management software uses a "layering" technology that slots between the hypervisor and the operating system for personalized virtual desktops. Instead of creating monolythic virtual analogs of a Windows C: drive, Unidesk's software segments the OS, shared applications, user data and user-installed apps into layers, which it dynamically composites at boot time into unified storage.

According to the Unidesk, this technique blends the ease of management of non-persistent, stateless desktops while maintaining persistent, stateful experiences for end users. Since the personalization, OS and shared application layers are isolated, OS patching and overall VDI management becomes a relatively straightforward affair, claims Unidesk.

And that's the goal of the Dell-Unidesk collaboration, says Steve Lalla, vice president and general manager of Dell's mobility solutions group. "With Unidesk layering technology added to DVS Enterprise, we make it easier and more affordable for IT to deploy and manage virtual desktops leveraging the DVS Integrated Solutions Stack infrastructure."

In a company blog post, Dell spokesperson Janet Diaz expands on some of the VDI management benefits. She writes, "It eliminates the application outliers that can't be virtualized. Now most any application can be delivered to any type of user, and IT has only one gold image to manage across the enterprise."

It can also cut storage costs, says Dell. By its estimates, the ability to share common layers can slash storage capacity requirements by up to 70 percent. According to Diaz's blog post, adding Unidesk's software to Dell EqualLogic hybrid SAN arrays improves IOPS, increases user density and reduces storage cost thanks to automatic data tiering between SSD and SAS drives.

Unidesk software for DVS Enterprise is available now via Dell Direct.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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This article was originally published on May 9, 2012
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