KVM User-Port Solutions in .NET

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KVM User-Port Solutions
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This first approach, used by ClearCube Technology, who has been the leader in the PC blade market, involves a KVM interface device, also called a user port, which resides at the user s location. The keyboard, video monitor, and mouse devices plug into the user port, using standard keyboard, video, and mouse cables. The user port may also support additional USB ports for other types of user-oriented devices. The user port then connects to the PC blade located in the data center. This connection can be local using either Cat 5 cable (up to 200 meters) or copper fiber (up to 500 meters), or remote using an Ethernet network. Figures 5.4 and 5.5 show local and remote user ports. Although in some cases the combined cost of all the hardware components may exceed the cost of a standard PC, the security, management, and environmental benefits plus the cost savings in OpEx can, in many cases, justify the up-front CapEx. OpEx savings come largely from reductions in ongoing management costs. In addition, user downtime will be reduced in the event of a blade failure, because the user can be switched to another blade automatically.
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Figure 5.4: ClearCube local user C/port (containing connectors for KVM and optional additional devices)
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Figure 5.5: ClearCube I/port for remote connections over IP
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Source: ClearCube Technology
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Thin Client Solutions
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A thin client may also be used to communicate with the PC blade. This is the approach taken by HP with its Consolidated Client Infrastructure (CCI) and the HP BladeSystem PC blade (see Figure 5.6).
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Part II
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A Closer Look
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Figure 5.6: HP thin client used to communicate with the HP BladeSystem PC blade
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Source: Hewlett-Packard
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Instead of a KVM user port, this approach uses a specialized hardware/software combination called a thin client, located at the user work area. Thin clients contain only the client code necessary to manage the user interface and communicate the information to and from the PC blade. Thin clients have been used for years in other ways as well, for communicating to terminal services such as Citrix and Windows Terminal Services.
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Dedicated or Dynamic PC Blades
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Although PC blade approaches separate the user interface (and the user) from the PC blade and offer a number of advantages, they still maintain a one-toone relationship between the user and a PC blade (a dedicated blade). As a result, many PC blades, like traditional PCs, sit idle for much of the time (when the user isn t at work, or is in meetings, and so on). Low utilization also happens with servers, but is even more pronounced with PCs, which are used by only one user. As a result, the trend for PC blade solutions is moving toward offering a variation for desktops that eliminates the requirement for a dedicated blade for each user. This dynamic blade environment allows multiple users to run on a single blade through the use of virtualization software. This approach improves the utilization of the blades and reduces the number of blades needed to support the PC user base. A dynamic blade environment, also sometimes called a virtual desktop or virtual client infrastructure, can be implemented using virtualization software on PC blades or on server blades. Virtualization on server blades will allow more users to run per blade, but virtualizing PC blades can offer a lower cost per seat. Both virtual solutions offer a many to 1 ratio many users to one blade. See Figure 5.7.
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PC blades or server blades
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Figure 5.7: Virtual PC blade implementation
Source: Focus Consulting
A number of vendors offer this type of dynamic blade solution. ClearCube offers a dynamic blade solution using ClearCube s PC blades, I/ports, Sentral management software and connection broker, and third-party server virtualization software from VMware or Microsoft. IBM s Virtual Client offering (which evolved from their Virtual Hosted Client Infrastructure, VHCI) is an example of a virtual desktop solution that runs on a blade server system. It consists of server virtualization software from VMware running on IBM BladeCenter; a connection broker from Leostream; and thin clients from Neoware, Wyse, or Devon IT. (IBM has also been offering a dedicated PC blade solution through their relationship with ClearCube). VMware s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and the Citrix Dynamic Desktop Initiative also fit in this virtual desktop space. They offer varying combinations of thin clients, server virtualization software, connection brokers, and terminal services (also known as shared services or published desktops).