Sunday, February 7, 2010

Real Time Collaboration in a Virtual Desktop Environment

The scenario:  In a virtual dektop environment the users have only a thin client on their desk. The thin client (a web browser, citrix client or Wyse terminal) accesses the business and office applications running on a server in the data center or in the cloud.. Technical terms used for this are Desktop Virtualization (DVI, Microsoft Web Access) or Cloud Computing (Google docs and Apps).
In my humble opinion (IMHO) desktop virtualization is great when you want to ensure nobody can copy your customer data and walk away with it. There is simply no way to copy any data on a USB drive if you have no active USB connector, WiFi or bluetooth.  Or get data by stealing the desktop PC/laptop with the data on the harddrive. Customers loving this are banks, financial instituations or any other highly regulated industry or security concerned customer.

The challenge: IMHO currrent VDI solutions with integrated voice and video don't deliver what's required to make this scenario a success. The voice and video quality is not good enough to deliver a good customer experience. That's a strong inhibitor for broader deployments.

The solution: IMHO,  the solution is decoupling voice and video from the thin client functionality. There are various ways how this can get achieved:
1) The simplest method is to place a VoIP desktop phone on the desk together with the thin client terminal. Using the ethernet switch in the VoIP phone the thin client terminal gets connected behind the phone. Great voice quality results.
2) Another way is to run a voice/video softclient on a desktop PC together with the thin client software. To satisfy the security needs you want to lock down the desktop PC so that no other SW can run and all USB interfaces are disabled.
Voice&Video and the thin client data then travel together over the ethernet to the datacenter. Here the thin client data gets connected to the virtualization servers while the real time voice/video packets hit the real time communication servers. Both get connected through Web Services or CTI Interfaces.

The Implementation: Is straightforward.

Please let me know what you think, and share your experiences with Real Time Collaboration in a Virtual Desktop Environment.

Christian von Reventlow:,, twitter: vonreventlow, Skype: vonreventlow, linked_in: vonreventlow


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  2. Good post. Certain verticals (finance, health care) require data security. What kind of communication/collaborative device/solution can deliver business class communication yet run or access the data oriented applications in a thin model? As you point out, it may be best to decouple but "associate" the communications piece and the data piece

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  4. Could you elaborate more on "The Challenge" section? Just looking for more specifics.