VDI Isn't Just for Desktops

by Sean Kerner

While the 'D' in VDI stands for Desktops, VDI is now being used to deliver services in innovative new ways, like virtual ATMs.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is usually seen just as a way to help enterprises deliver desktops more efficiently. As it turns out, VDI can deliver more than just business desktops, the technology can also be leveraged to deliver business services.

Case in point is the ATM vendor Diebold, which is now piloting an effort that will see bank machines delivered as virtual ATMs enabled by a Cisco backend VDI solution.

Mark Kropf who works in the Emerging Technologies division of Diebold explained to InternetNews.com that the majority of ATMs in the U.S. today have a computer inside of them running a version of Microsoft's Windows XP. He noted that over time those installations have grown in complexity and become increasingly difficult to manage and maintain. Going the VDI route will enable Diebold and their banking customers that ability to more efficiently deliver ATM services.

"We do have a process do go in and retrofit an ATM with a zero client device and uplift the ATM to extend its useful life," Kropf said.

Diebold has an OEM relationship with Cisco to help create the zero client device for the ATMs. On the backend, the Diebold server core is now all based on the Cisco UCS server platform. Kropf noted the VDI deployment in the server core is very dense since the memory and CPU specifications for a virtual ATM are much lower than is required for a typical user desktop.

The Cisco UCS is a converged server platform that is optimized for virtualization and VDI deployments. The UCS was first announced in March 2009 and has been steadily expanded by Cisco ever since.

Moving toward, VDI has not been without its fair share of challenges for Diebold. Kropf noted that when Diebold started the project more than two and half years ago, each virtual ATM required more than 100 Mbps of bandwidth.

"VDI is very focused on the user, and we have a kiosk setup, and the UCS performance numbers were based on server virtualization," Kropf said. "So we're constantly testing and learning more about our density and how far we can push it."

Kropf noted that the virtual ATM effort is still in its early pilot phases, and there is still more work and opportunities for the technology.

"There are so many things that this opens up and that is why instead of working in a silo and taking five years to develop this, we've announced this early and we're working with customers," Kropf said. "We see this as a story that will continue on in our industry and our cloud computing future."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Friday Dec 16th 2011
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