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Straipsnio autorius: Hugo Bonnaffé

OVH Cloud Desktop: What makes it stand out from the competition?

OVH launched its virtual desktop (Cloud Desktop) and Cloud Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) offers. Why did OVH choose VMware Horizon solution to build its offers, and what is the technical platform they are based on? François Loiseau, senior cloud architect within the team that designed these offers, provides some insight.

Overview of the technical choices

To build its Cloud Desktop offer, OVH relied on the Horizon solution by VMware. There are many reasons for this, starting with the longstanding partnership between OVH and VMware. "We have an excellent command of VMware technologies, since we have been exploiting them for several years within the framework of the Private Cloud offer. And our relationship with VMware allows us to get Horizon 7 a little before anyone else and customers can then benefit from it. That being said, we did not only exploit VMware's solution to build our service. We used it as an essential component, around which we added automation. And we will gradually add layers of additional services: backup, the possibility to interconnect virtual desktops through vRack, etc."

In addition to its thorough knowledge of VMware technologies, "the operational simplicity, compared to competing technologies, combined with the performance, especially of the Blast Extreme technology that is used to compress the video stream, is what attracted OVH to Horizon." All that remained was to look into the selection of an infrastructure bringing together performance and cost optimization, so that we could offer a solution that would be about 30% cheaper than the competition, of equivalent quality. "In order to work, Horizon must be based on (VMware) vSphere hypervisor. This is good since Private Cloud by OVH precisely offers "vSphere as a Service", with maximum availability and infinite scalability. So we used Private Cloud to host Horizon's management machines. Cloud Desktops, for their part, are deployed on dedicated servers, interconnected through vRack. This hybrid infrastructure is a typical example of an OVH services combination that is commonly seen among Private Cloud customers." Moreover, the OVH offer differentiates itself from the competition by providing an administrator access to Cloud Desktop. "Most of our competitors offer virtual desktops on which you are very limited, especially when it comes to installing applications. With our Cloud Desktop, you are not limited to an application catalog. You are the administrator of the machine, so you can install any software and even use the licenses you already have (Bring Your Own License)." A freedom of choice made possible by a significant amount of work on the security of the infrastructure and isolation of each virtual desktop within a VLAN, so that users cannot cause harm to their neighbors. What about the team's next projects? "Increase the choice in available operating systems (until now limited to Windows) by offering Linux distributions, and why not Mac OS."

Cloud Desktop models for different use cases

OVH offers four models of virtual desktops starting at 9,99 € excl. VAT / month. Cloud Desktop has been designed to cover a wide range of uses, from office use (Cloud Desktop 1 or 2 to browse the Internet and edit Excel files) to photo or video editing with models including a GPU (Cloud Desktop 4), or the development, for example, for running Java IDE, which is slightly resource-intensive (Cloud Desktop 3).

Cloud Desktop Infrastructure, the solution to deploy and control your farm of virtual desktops

The moment a company owns more than 50 workstations — that is to say an information system with a certain level of complexity — it becomes more interesting for the company to self-manage its own virtual desktop infrastructure (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – VDI). Besides being able to exactly reproduce your local network on a remote infrastructure which IT management will have total control over, what makes this interesting is that you will be able to make new workstations available more efficiently, by creating your own templates (including the OS, applications and access rights according to the type of users and the department for which they work). This way, a workstation for a new accountant within the Finance department can be deployed in just a few clicks...

To simplify the setting up of such a VDI infrastrucure, OVH unveiled a VDI as a Service offer based on Horizon, that is entirely hosted on Private Cloud: Cloud Desktop Infrastructure. A solution that guarantees high availability, scalability, compatibility with vRack (for the creation of hybrid infrastructure combining dedicated servers, to host application servers for example) and Dedicated Connect (namely, the possibility to extend the private network of a company all the way to OVH, without exposing its infrastructure on the public network).