IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Dell Unveils New VDI Hardware and Software for SMBs

The new offerings include a hyper-converged infrastructure appliance for hosting virtual desktops, a new mobile thin client device (pictured), an updated edition of the ThinOS operating system, and a new thin client management platform. By Rich Freeman

The Dell Inc. unit of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Technologies has shipped four products designed to make deploying and managing virtual desktop infrastructure solutions both simpler and more affordable for SMBs.

Collectively, the new offerings cover the core elements of a VDI implementation, from backend infrastructure and client operating system to client end points and management software.

The infrastructure element is a new hyperconverged appliance called the Dell EMC XC Xpress for VDI. Due to reach market on July 20th and tailored to organizations with 100 to 500 users, it will list for approximately $25,000. That’s about 30 percent less than Dell EMC’s larger XC appliance, which is designed to support up to tens of thousands of virtual desktops.

“We got a lot of requests from our channel to build a version of that device that was more squarely aimed at the kind of business they do,” says Jeff McNaught, vice president of cloud client computing at Dell.

The XC Xpress for VDI is a 1U, rack-mount form factor with three compute nodes, to maintain high availability through automatic failover. Buyers can add an optional fourth node as well. The product comes with pre-installed Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure software, a web-based management application, and both hypervisor and brokering technology from Citrix Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., or VMware Inc. The end result, according to McNaught, is a product that channel pros can roll out quickly and easily.

“You can take the device out of the box, plug it into the server, connect it to power, connect it to networking, turn it on, and within about three hours you’ve got a whole slew of virtual desktops,” he says.

The new end point unveiled today is a mobile thin client called the Dell Latitude 3480.

“It looks exactly like a Latitude laptop because it’s built from Latitude laptop hardware,” McNaught says. “We just changed the software layer.”

That stripped-down software layer includes a write-protected file system that prevents users from saving data to the device, which both strengthens security and enables multiple employees to share a single unit, during different shifts for example.

Equipped with Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system, the Latitude 3480 features dual core Intel processors, 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, onboard wireless networking, and a 14-inch full high-definition display. Supported virtual desktop brokers include Citrix XenDesktop, Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, and VMware Horizon. There are also RJ45, HDMI, and VGA ports, two USB 3.1 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, and a USB-C port.

“You’re sort of future-proofed there,” McNaught says.

Scheduled to ship on July 19th, the new device lists at $799. It follows an entry-level, quad-core thin client device that Dell released in March and two earlier Latitude mobile thin clients shipped last September.

Also announced today is the new 8.4 release of Dell’s ThinOS thin client operating system. Significant enhancements include support for VMware’s high-performance Blast Extreme display protocol. Introduced last March, Blast Extreme is engineered for reduced CPU utilization and therefore longer battery life than the older PCoIP protocol.

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