A Simple Experiment

On October 21st, Chris Wolf, a prominent analyst from Gartner published a blog titled <a href="" target="_blank">"PCoIP vs. ICA/HDX:A Simple Experiment"</a>. Chris describes his firsthand experience (while traveling in Europe) using PCoIP versus ICA/HDX to access his desktop which was hosted in North America. He provided videos of four different connectivity scenarios ranging from a 3G domestic connection to a hotel with a high latency connection.

His major conclusions:

  • PCoIP performed extremely well; connecting from Copenhagen back to New Jersey (117ms)

  • ICA/HDX was more responsive when latency was over 200 ms.

At VMware we are always looking at real world use cases for desktop virtualization and are glad that Chris Wolf took an unbiased look at our technology. It pushes us to continuously improve our technology and our products for our customers. We’re very proud of the user experience delivered by View 4.5. In fact, if you joined us at VMworld San Francisco or VMworld Europe, we actually ran all of the technology labs in San Francisco and Copenhagen using View hosted at remote partner data centers with PCoIP access via the WAN. From Copenhagen, each lab desktop was utilizing approximately 200KB per second of bandwidth and the trans-Atlantic network latency was in the 120-140ms range. You can hear more about the VMworld labs here -> <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.

VMware View 4.5 with and PCoIP are configured out of the box to provide the richest LAN experience. There are several important parameters that can be adjusted to optimally tune the protocol for WAN conditions and specific usage scenarios. For WAN conditions it can be very helpful to adjust the display frame rate, image quality and min/max bandwidth settings. As an example, the default frame rate with PCoIP is 30. This can be safely cut down to 12 frames per second for WAN usage resulting in less bandwidth consumption and a better experience in many such circumstances. At VMworld, such frame rate reductions were used to decrease bandwidth by 30%. With respect to image quality settings, lowering the maximum image quality will help avoid bandwidth contention among many users, while raising the minimum image quality will define the minimum acceptable experience under congestion. Similarly, there are settings for bandwidth; maximum bandwidth can be used to constrain peak consumption to avoid starvation of other users, while minimum bandwidth can be used to avoid poor desktop performance due to congestion. More details on the appropriate parameter settings for optimizing PCoIP over the WAN can be found in section 4 of this document -> <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.

One other thing, the VPN Chris used was a Vyatta open source L2TP/IPsec VPN. There are numerous ways to configure such VPN’s, however PCoIP utilizes UDP for the graphics packets and optimizes parallelism and retransmits at the higher layers of the protocol. Hence we recommend using a VPN technology that support UDP packets natively, not to tunnel the UDP traffic over TCP/IP as doing so will typically cause responsiveness issues.

Overall, this is a positive endorsement from a highly regarded unbiased analyst who validates a near equivalent user experience for PCoIP vs HDX for the majority of use cases. Customer scenarios range in bandwidth and latency, but conditions of latency above 200 ms seem to represent a small minority.

Business travel, like Chris’ recent trip to Europe, is a big reason we have worked hard to provide offline access through VMware View with Local Mode. <a href="" target="_blank">VMware View Client with Local Mode</a>, the industry’s first integrated offline virtual desktop solution, enables users to access their virtual desktop even while disconnected from the network. In addition to offline requirements, VMware View Client with Local Mode delivers solutions to enable use cases such as Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) and contractor owned IT. Innovative management provides enforcement of consistent security and compliance policies across connected and disconnected virtual desktops.

Through innovation like this, we hope to expand the use cases and improve the user experience for end users.

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Thanks for the clarification, your explanation was very clear and helpful.

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