Back in October of last year, Dell announced at the Gartner IT Expo a new solution called Dell On-Demand Desktop Streaming as part of their Flexible Computing Solutions. This is a bundled solution that includes Citrix Provisioning Server for Desktops. Here is the description of this solution from Dell.

On-Demand Desktop Streaming differs from similar offerings by providing centralized IT control and data security without compromising end-user productivity. It also incorporates the company’s breakthrough EasyConnect™ technology, making client deployment easier by removing manual licensing and enabling an instant boot to the server.

“Dell’s On-Demand Desktop Streaming solution can eliminate many of the security risks associated with viruses, spyware and hacking attempts,” said Lee Steinsdoerfer, technology director, Zion-Benton Township High School, Zion, Ill. “We have fewer security concerns and can focus our resources on other pressing needs.”

Additional features of Dell’s On-Demand Desktop Streaming include:

  • Virus resistance, making malware less of a concern because each re-boot restores the original image.
  • Image roll-back, which allows IT administrators to roll out a new OS or application and restore the previous production image if there is a problem.
  • Support for up to 100 end users with one server, versus a blade PC for every user, making manageability and maintenance easier.
  • Standard Image Mode, which can deliver one standard image across all systems for quick and easy changes while minimizing impact on network resources.
  • Flexibility to easily expand, change or move users or redeploy data center infrastructure for other uses. |

The Dell blog, Direct2Dell put up a post and video of the new solution in which “Bharath Vasudevan and Aaron Prince from the Solutions Engineering team walk you through a demo of a 100-client setup“.

(You may need to update your Windows Media Player to see the player with the post. If you see a red x above instead the media player window, here is the link to the video.)

Dell created a  Deployment Guide for the On Demand Desktop Solution. Here is a list of components of the solution as listed in the deployment guide:

Hardware and Software Requirements

Following are the basic requirements for hardware and software:

Streaming Server: Dell PowerEdge™ 2950

Standalone server configuration: At least one Dual Core Intel® Xeon® 5160 processor, 4 GB of 667-MHz RAM, and at least six 10,000 or 15,000 RPM SAS hard drives, with two drives in a RAID 1 configuration and the remaining drives in a RAID 10 configuration. Dell recommends no more than 100 users per server.

HA configuration: Minimum of two identically configured servers with at least one Dual Core Intel® Xeon® 5160 processor, 4 GB of 667-MHz RAM, and at least two 10,000 or 15,000 RPM SAS hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration (see “Storage Sizing Guidelines”). Dell recommends that the number of servers allow failure of one server with no more than 100 users per remaining server.

NAS Server (HA Configurations Only): Dell PowerEdge™ 2900
At least six 10,000 or 15,000 RPM SAS or 7200 RPM SATA hard drives, with two drives in a RAID 1 configuration and the remaining drives in a RAID 10 configuration (see “Storage Sizing Guidelines”). Up to 10 hard drives are supported, with two drives in an optional Flex Bay. Dell recommends no more than 200 users per NAS server.

Server Operating System: Microsoft® Windows Server® 2003 R2 Standard or Enterprise Edition (32-bit) for streaming servers and Windows Storage Server 2003, x64 Standard or Enterprise Edition for NAS servers.

Clients: Dell OptiPlex™ 755 or Dell OptiPlex 755 FLX (diskless)
For the ideal experience with multiple or memory-intensive client applications, Dell recommends 2 GB of RAM to reduce the likelihood of memory swapping across the network.

Client Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (32-bit or 64-bit) with SP2, Windows Vista® Business (32-bit or 64-bit), or Windows Vista® Ultimate (32-bit)

Streaming Software: Ardence Software-Streaming Platform (Citrix Provisioning Server for Desktops), version 4.1 SP2(DELL)

Licenses: Through EasyConnect™ Technology, the Dell clients are licensed for On-Demand Desktop Streaming. Importing and installing licenses from Citrix are not required.

NOTE: A hard drive must initially be installed in at least one client computer to create the master client vDisk image. The hard drive may be removed if desired after the vDisk image has been created.

Dell also put together a Performance Characterization whitepaper for the joint offering. This is a very detailed document that includes numerous metrics under increasing loads, including client boot time, client retires, server cpu utilization, memory utilization and disk queue length. If you are curious about the performance and scalability of Citrix Provisioning Server in this Dell Solution, take a few moments to review this whitepaper.
If you are considering making a change in desktops and want to dramatically lower support costs, this new joint solution from Citrix and Dell is worth taking the time to evaluate.