Torn Between Two VDI Solutions

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I'm investigating virtual desktops at work. My goal is to do a small proof-of-concept trial of VDI this summer, see how it works out in practice, and then expand it or dump it as appropriate into the future.

The two products I like are Virtual Bridges VERDE and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops.

What I like about both products:

  • Uses the Linux-based KVM hypervisor
  • Supports both Linux and Windows Desktop VMs
  • Designed with VDI in mind rather than bolted on

Virtual Bridges VERDE

Brian Madden and Gabe Knuth did VDI Shootout that they called Geek Week over at They included Virtual Bridges VERDE. Check out the videos: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Please note that VERDE 4 was released after Geek Week and now includes a web-based management app and multiple remote desktop protocols (VERDE, RDP, and NX).

I can't talk specifically about pricing since it isn't public but from what I've seen from various sources, they hint at about $100 per desktop VM.

What I like about VERDE:

  • Includes everything, no separate pieces
  • Easy to install, deploy, and manage
  • Low initial hardware requirements
  • All Linux product
  • Multiple remote protocols
  • Broad product (Branch, Leaf, etc)
  • Sales attentive to smaller fish
  • Adding servers doesn't cost extra

What I am less fond of about VERDE:

  • Pricing not public
  • Less enterprisey
  • No potential for free software version
  • No SPICE yet but down the road

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

As anyone who has been paying attention knows, I'm a big Red Hat fan... and I was even able to persuade some Red Hat reps to visit the Bozeman area to give us a presentation on RHEV for Servers. The "for Desktops" part wasn't out yet but they did give us a demo of the beta that was available at the time.

Red Hat released RHEV 2.2 last week at Red Hat Summit 2010 which includes the "for Desktop" part. According to the their website:

Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops is an add-on to your existing Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers subscription. Desktops are licensed on a per-concurrent-desktop basis, in packs of 25 concurrent desktops. The subscription includes support for supported desktop operating systems, the SPICE remote rendering protocol, the Connection Broker, and for supported thin clients and PC browsers on Linux and Windows platforms.

So far as I can tell from their starter kit pricing, concurrent Desktop VMs in RHEV cost $15 each in batches of 25 above the $499 per socket cost of RHEV. I'm guessing they offer academic discounts for those who qualify.

What I like about RHEV:

  • Red Hat has the expertise, kernel, kvm and SPICE
  • Comes with SPICE now
  • Public and clear pricing
  • Very enterprisey
  • Good for Servers too
  • Eventual free software release

What I am less fond of about RHEV:

  • Current management app requires MS Windows server, Active Directory, etc
  • Higher hardware requirements
  • Over complicated design
  • Too enterprisey
  • Per-socket pricing means more servers cost more
  • Less attentive to small fish

Where to go from here

At this point I'm very sceptical about any VDI solution's ability to deliver the "same as a physical machine" experience to the desktop end user.

I'm working on getting a VERDE proof-of-concept trial to see if it does indeed install and deploy as easily as it appears... but more importantly discover how well it performs and how good of a desktop experience it offers.

I'd also like to see RHEV for Desktops in action and I have a friend in Billings who has a deployment coming soon so I hope to see how that goes.

Why not go for RHEV now? I don't currently have a shared storage solution in place. From what I've read about VERDE, it'll work just fine without one although it would definitely benefit from having one. For RHEV, you most certainly want to have a shared storage solution to begin with. If and when I get a shared storage solution, I'll definitely give more attention to RHEV but I'm certainly going to keep up with VERDE development too.

I didn't elaborate on any of the bullet points so anyone who wants more specifics, feel free to ask by commenting.

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Scott Dowdle's picture

Red Hat is a "free software company"

I know there aren't that many out there... and Novell and Canonical are NOT free software companies... but Red Hat *IS* a free software company. They eventually release everything as free software. For example, they bought Netscape Directory Server from AOL... and it did take some time but they released it as open source as Fedora Directory Server. They developed the Red Hat Network management/update system as a proprietary service but eventually released as open source as Spacewalk. And of course they release all of the code for all of he Red Hat Enterprise Linux packages and as a result there are a number of rebranded builds like CentOS and Scientific Linux.

It might take Red Hat some time before they are finished with the JBoss-based rewrite of the RHEV Management application but with history as a guide, they'll release the source for that too. Red Hat believes in FOSS and releasing the RHEV source code will be seen as a strategic selling point that none of the competition will match... empowering the customer... which is what FOSS is all about.


Can you expand on this regarding RHEV-D.

"Eventual free software release"

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