Some of you may have noticed that about 2 months ago there was news regarding NASA astronauts tweeting from space! As it turns out, these astronauts were using virtual desktops with XenDesktop. With XenDesktop, virtual desktops are running in a centralized data center at mission control in Houston, and astronauts securely connect to these virtual desktops from anywhere, including from the international space station! From these desktops, they can do anything they want – tweeting to their family or posting videos on YouTube.

When you think about it, virtual desktops are really the only way to enable these capabilities for an environment like NASA. With a traditional PC, there are security, performance and support concerns that are compounded by the fact that the astronauts are in outer space. Posting video on YouTube would have been impossible! With virtual desktops, it’s easier to ensure secure communication between space and the datacenter on Earth, and the faster network link between the desktop running in the datacenter and the Internet provides much better performance than physical PCs could ever have.

The key to success here is Citrix HDX technology that is designed to deliver users a high-def user experience regardless of their location. This project by NASA tested Citrix HDX to an extreme case! And before you go thinking that all this was due to Citrix ICA(r), the fact is that no single protocol can address these harsh network requirements – not even ICA, long known as the best performing protocol available. The only way to deliver truly ‘satellite’ users the best performance, as done by NASA, is to use a system like HDX that leverages the entire infrastructure. In this case, there are several technologies of HDX in action. The two key ones are:

  1. Content specific optimization – HDX technology does not handle all types of content in one way – instead it delivers optimization for different types of content such as multimedia over high latency satellite network.
  2. WAN Optimization with local caching – Caching bandwidth intensive content, such as images, videos, etc, locally in the space shuttle itself optimizes performance for the users. HDX WAN Optimization, delivered via integration between Citrix Repeater and XenDesktop, provides our customers the ability to optimize the delivery of virtual desktops to branch offices and can cut down the bandwidth utilization significantly, as much as 90%.

So, If you wonder – ‘can virtual desktops perform well to your branch office?’, then you should be assured that with XenDesktop and HDX they will whether your satellite office is on the earth or in outer space!