June 25, 2012, 2:25 PM — Piston Cloud Computing is the first OpenStack-based company to embrace virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), marking OpenStack's entrance into the VDI market dominated by Citrix.
Piston's VDI, set to be announced Tuesday, is offered through a partnership with Gridcentric, a Toronto-based startup that specializes in VDI technology and, somewhat ironically, has backing from Citrix. As of now, the VDI technology will only be supported in OpenStack through the Piston Cloud OS offering, but Piston CEO Joshua McKenty says VDI and desktop as a service (DaaS) are a natural technology progression that the OpenStack community, including big-name tech players like HP, Dell, Rackspace and IBM, may look to themselves in the near future.
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Virtual desktops allow the central management of a suite of desktops, which are accessed through a thin client or some gateway application. McKenty says increasingly, customers are asking about virtual desktop functionality, in part as a mobile device management (MDM) approach to tackle the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.
Gridcentric uses a cloning technique to power its VDI technology, called Virtual Memory Streaming (VMS), which it says allows for faster deployment and more efficient management of virtual desktops. Born out of research from the University of Toronto and Carnegie Mellon University, Gridcentric stores a master desktop image on a server that is cloned and distributed as a virtual desktop to users. Traditionally in VDI, each new desktop requires a new bootup, which is taxing on both time and compute resources.