Workstation virtualisation solution - alternative to VMWare Horizon ?

Dear all,

We are looking for a user workstation visualization solution for a small setup of approx 15 users.

What we want is to be able, a boot time, to "push" a managed image of a windows OS (typically win7 or 8) to a bunch of workstations (no necessarily completely standardized but still similar in capacity). We don't want thin clients / VDI here but managed thick clients.

It seems that VMWare Horizon would do that but unless I'm completely wrong with their licensing we are looking for 30k$+ for our 15 users, which is way over budget.

Again, about 15 workstations, only windows, may a set of 2-3 standard images to deploy at boot. Something lightweight...

What would be your recommendation ?
Alexandre TakacsCTOAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Many VDI solutions are not cheap for only 15 users, 15 users is a very small setup.

It does depend on how much automation you require, if you just want 15 VDI workstations, of Windows 7 or Windows 8, this could be done for free with VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) - FREE version, and then just create 15 Virtual Machines, and access each machine via RDP.

(poor man's solution but works!).

Do you need VDI, would Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Serviced work ?

Citrix XenDesktop is another cheaper solution...but checkout the following, the follow VDI Smackdown comparison report, compares and contrasts ALL the VDI solutions on the market, by indepedant consultants PQR.

You will need to register and supply your email address.
Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Thanks - will review your links.
Actually we do NOT want VDI - we want the users to run local Windows. I thought something based on netboot might be in order... ?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
So you don't want VDI, what you want to BOOT Windows 7 or Windows 8 across the network ?
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Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Yes - based on managed, predictable, organized fashion.

I guess I can install ESX on all machine and netboot them ?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You can deploy WIndows 7 or Windows 8 via the network, but it takes a few hours to deploy, so this is not a suitable method for usage.

Products like Symantec Enterprise Ghost or Microsoft Deployment Toolkit can do this.
Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Well I'm not sure I got an answer here (might be that my question in not expressed correctly...).
I'm not looking for a deployment solution - I'm looking for some managed thick client visualization. Is Horizon the only game in town ?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Did you look at the links, and comparison of all the VDI solutions?

Horizon is a VDI solution, e.g. a virtual machine, with Windows 7 installed.

It allows the deployment of Windows 7 (virtual machine), and a connection broker which allows the easy connection to it from a client, the client can be WIndows, iPad, Androud, or a Thin Client.

So what do you want to do ?

What management of  thick client are you looking for, what features ?

Application Deployment ?
Patches ?
Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Ok actually it would seems that what I really need (or comes closest to my needs) is

Anyone using it around here ?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, we use Mirage, but Windows MDT does exactly the same thing and is free.

It's also the same as Symantec Ghost, e.g. deploys a WIndows OS to a PC, and then has hooks to manage the image, and deploy apps.

15 workstations, is an expensive deployment...e.g. it's small.

So what you want to do, is as follows:-

1. Turn on a new PC with NO OS.

2. PC Boots via PXE

3. Menu asks you what Image you want to deploy

4. Select Image for deployment, with optional Applications

5. Wait 20-40 minutes whilst the image and applications, and packages, and updates are deployed.

6. PC restarts, it's part of the domain

7. User Logs in ?
Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Well it is not "just" for initial deployment - the plan is also to maintain the client "images" over time, including application "layering", the possibility to separate the user data from the underlying OS and easy backup / recovery.
Windows MDT certainly does a lot of that - not sure how far it goes. Also looking into a mix of cruciblewds and wpkg...
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
MDT is a deployment tool, where you can maintain the image and applications.

Active Directory Group Policies and Design will allow you to  enable you to store all users data on a file server, so the OS and User Data is separated.

and then you can re-image, re-deploy an image at will should a PC get corrupted, and the user data is not affected.

We use it here to deploy images to over 600 workstations!

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Alexandre TakacsCTOAuthor Commented:
Godd feedback - got me working on MDT :)
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