Virtualisation specialist VMware today demonstrated PC over IP (pcoip), a protocol designed in partnership with Canadian firm Teradici, which intelligently compresses and prioritises data over slower connections to reduce any lag experienced by the user.
The second day of VMWorld's Virtualisation Forum 2009 in Sydney today kicked off with a keynote by the company's chief technical officer Stephen Herrod, who demonstrated how pcoip could remove lag when using a virtual machine, even when working with complex files over a relatively slow WAN.
"The key thing about this protocol is that it is aware of the amount of network bandwidth available to it, so it very much knows, 'I am on a high speed LAN' or 'I'm on a poor WAN'," he said.
According to Herrod, pcoip is far superior to the traditional Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) because of its intelligence.
"Specifically almost all these protocols work by looking at the screen and deciding how to compress things in a smart way.
"This one is extremely smart compared to RDP, it tracks how the screen has changed over time ... it tries to bring the most important pieces to you first and then the stuff that might not be in your direct focal view will come later," said Herrod.
Herrod compared it to a digital television that recognises parts of the screen containing fast moving images, which are given priority while static areas are held back.
The pcoip protocol is software-based and Herrod claimed that without any dedicated hardware acceleration, it could "scale from taskworkers - who are working in a call centre - all the way to the high-end designers working with interesting CAD designs."
However, he admitted that some companies had opted to deploy an accelerator chip.
"Teradichi also offer a chip which is optional but we have seen this in use by companies such as BMW, who do very intensive design over a network.
"If you haven't worked on [a virtual machine] for a while, it is probably not what you remember," he added.