Remote workstations are a market segment that has been around for some time. Today, HP is showing off its new Z by HP rack-mountable remote workstations along with its ZCentral management. Since they go in a rack, we are going to cover these alongside our deluge of Supercomputing 2019 coverage.
Z by HP Rack Mountable Remote Workstations with ZCentral
Here is the background on the remote workstations. As workers are more mobile, companies are trying to deliver high-end workstation components to users wherever they may be, with a twist. Using remote workstations allows a company to over-subscribe people to machines lowering costs.
There are a few other benefits that Z by HP and ZCentral are pointing out. Having workstations in a data center means one can get more bandwidth, lower latency, and a secure infrastructure. Moving large files for engineering or video can take a lot of time on 1GbE networks or over Wi-Fi, but it can be much faster in the data center. Also, one may not need to move the data off of centralized storage as well. The remote desktop/ VDI market is mature and most understand this concept.
The Z by HP Rack Mountable Workstations are standard workstations designed to be rack-mounted. You can see racks of large workstations and shelves with seven workstations in the picture below.
The larger systems appear to be the HP Z8 G4 and are designed to be rack-mounted and serviced from above.
There are other options such as the HP Z2 Mini which can be mounted in a denser than one workstation per U configuration.
Here is what these look like together:
Perhaps what is most interesting is the ZCentral application. HP is attempting to lower the barrier to entry for remote workstations to a less technical crowd than would typically be required to setup VMware, Microsoft, or Citrix solutions.
New with this version is support for Ubuntu OSes on the workstations while still providing the VDI acceleration.
Once set up, the new ZCentral management interface is designed to be administered either by an IT professional, or even a non-IT admin. HP is positioning this as highly simplified VDI where it can be part of someone’s job to administer the workstations.
As endpoints, naturally HP also suggests using devices such as its ZBook line.
The idea of virtual workstations and virtual desktops has been around for years. It is good to see HP push boundaries for ease of use and integration. At the same time, this is moving into the turf of some of HP’s partners such as Microsoft, VMware, and Citrix which makes it very interesting. Also, this is not an area where there is a great open-source alternative which makes the solution potentially more attractive to smaller creative shops than less integrated alternatives.
For those wondering, we have not tested the rack-mounted workstations and ZCentral, but there is rack space in our labs if the opportunity presents itself.