Ulteo OVD 3 – Open Source Remote Desktop

Ulteo Open Virtual desktop is an Open Source alternative to Presentation Virtualization solutions such as Citrix XenApp, or Ericom PowerConnect or Quest vWorkspace.

Ulteo have taken our views into account and responded to customer feedback and Ulteo OVD 3 can  now provide a viable alternative in the general marketplace – not just for those enteprises who actively adopt Open Source.

Since our review in 2009 the market positioning of Ulteo and its OVD product has become much more aligned with mainstream Presentation Virtualization from Citrix and competitiors such as Ericom PowerConnect or Quest vWorkspace. It is a way of turning a Terminal Server farm into something that securely delivers aplications in a managed way to multiple client device types, and like many of these solutions it uses Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to do so. In addition, we are seeing continued adoption of Linux in the marketplace, and Ulteo uniquely allows Linux to be integrated into a Windows Presentation Virtualization solution.

Ulteo OVD is fully Open Source and follows a GPL2 licencing model analogous to  a Linux distribution such as Red Hat (i.e. it is not dual-licenced like MySQL or Eucalyptus). There is a free-to-download supported solution with all components in a single install and you buy support for this product and for Premium modules. Ulteo provides access to the source code for those who feel they have the skill to recompile and repackage themselves. But in production most customers take the Ulteo certified OVD version, along with support. In larger installations the Premium modules will almost-certainly be required.

Comparative Features

If you are looking at XenApp or similar, there are a number of features of Ulteo that could put it on the shortlist

  • Price
    • For small installations you only need to concern yourself about licences for Windows servers, and support for the open source components of the system.
    • For most installations you will need the additional cost of support for the  Premium modules, but the overall cost is still relatively low.
  • A good range of client-side delivery options
    • Client devices via installed executables, apps, browser (java with HTML5 coming soon).
    • A seamless mode like Citrix Receiver which in combination with server-side Linux support can allow you to deliver Linux applications into Windows desktops without the user even noticing.
  • Linux Server Support
    • OVD can integrate Linux as a Presentation Virtualization server. A surprising number of your desktop applications (Acrobat, various browsers, but also business apps such as Lotus Notes and SAP) will run on Linux. You then need to buy fewer Windows Server licences and (potentially) fewer Windows RDS CALs, which again can reduce costs.
    • Linux and Windows applications exist (as far as makes sense) within the same user profile. I.e. they see the same filesystem, so you can fire up an MS Word on Windows, print a document to PDF and then open it up inside an Acrobat running in Linux, both seamlessly running in the same desktop.
  • Extreme flexibility
    • Clients: You can mix and match Linux and Windows tablets, iphones, android etc. (although tablets and phones are paid-for modules)
    • The desktop broker can be integrated into your own portal or into sharepoint.
    • Numerous authentication and User Profile management options via Windows and Active Directory or Linux/Samba/OpenLDAP
    • You can even use Ulteo to publish Linux Apps into other PV solutions like XenApp (or Ericom PowerConnect or Quest vWorkspace) or Desktop Virtualization solutions XenDesktop (orVMware View) or publish Windows apps into Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops.
    • The whole thing is open source (including the enterprise modules) – you may not want to edit the source code, but the openness makes it easier to understand how to configure and glue it into your environment
  • Relative simplicity
    • The out-of-the-box installation is simple.
    • It may take a little while to download but it would probably take you an afternoon to get multiple servers (Linux, Windows etc) connected through a desktop broker with some applications published and users authenticated through an existing Active Directory.



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