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The Right Display Protocol For The VDI Solution

This write-up assumes that the reader is aware of the VDI architectural basics. It further delves into providing an insight to the further questions:

For a moment, let us keep the rest of the components of the VDI architecture at backstage, and pick up a single component, which establishes the communication between the server and the endpoint device- the connection broker.

Every connection broker follows a specific set of rules to bridge this connection. In other words, the connection broker, which is a software program, uses a Remote Display Protocol which helps in communicating the output from server to the endpoint device.

A good Remote Display Protocol is expected to be equipped with the following properties:

  1. It should ensure a reliable data delivery. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a well known protocol, which sends the generated output in small packets of data. The protocol retains the network connection till all the data is transferred, and resends the output if the connection is interrupted. It is a highly authenticated protocol.
  2. The data delivery must be fast, especially for transferring the media rich applications. The audio and the video should be synchronized with minimal delay. User Datagram Protocol(UDP), unlike TCP, does not sequence the data packets, and thus is efficient in sending the data faster.
  3. There must be no complex hardware extension involved. Most of the display protocols today are those which were designed to be used for Terminal Servers, and needed several hardware extensions before these could be used for the VDI solutions.

The Popular Display Protocols:

Choosing the right protocol depends mainly on the multimedia requirements of the endpoint device. However, the commonly used remote display protocols today are technologically designed to offer:

Under VDI architecture, there are 3 such display protocols, which are popular, with their won limitations:

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol(RDP)/ Remote FX:

The RDP has been going through continuous up gradations to meet up with the demanding multimedia requirements. Remote FX is the improved protocol version of RDP for later versions of Windows Server. However, it is not considered the best option for the continually increasing multimedia requirements. Without the required upgrade, the user experience does not suffice.

VMWare’s PC-over-IP(PCoIP):

With a low bandwidth consumption over LAN and WAN, PCoIP is preferred over the other display protocols. Its performance is also better since it uses UDP unlike the other display protocols which use TCP as well. However, a major limitation of VMWare’s PCoIP is that it cannot be used with Windows Server 2012, which is wide in use at present.

3. Citrix’s HDX:

Initially called Independent Computing Architecture(ICA), Citrix launched its remote display protocol with an appreciable performance, which was launched as HDX as a part of its 2009 suite release. It offered a very good end-user experience with a low bandwidth and multimedia redirection. The further versions of HDX were multimedia rich. Its biggest limitation however was its incompatibility with later versions of Windows servers, which confined Citrix to a lesser number of users.

While, the companies are still in research mode to offer a PC like multimedia solution under VDI architecture, there is one name that has grown by leaps and bounds in this area:

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