Where remote access to a rackable workstation makes sense

The classic image of a workstation, whether for engineering, data visualization, media production, financial analysis or any other technical, graphical or design task, is one of an individual single-user system. In this it resembles the office PC – the workstation may be considerably more powerful and have a bigger, higher-resolution screen, but it still sits on, under or alongside a desk, and it is used by the person sitting at that desk.

Those ideas are changing, however. Just as PCs can now be accessed remotely or as virtual desktops hosted on a server, the realization is growing that workstations can be remotely accessed too. After all, there is very little difference between a PC and a workstation in terms of what the user actually needs to connect, see and use – a screen or screens, a keyboard, a mouse, and perhaps some peripherals, such as a graphics tablet or similar.

The one big difference is that the workloads that typically run on workstations are highly demanding and are not well suited to running on traditional virtualized systems. In addition, their software pricing structure may not be designed with virtual servers in mind. That means the remote option tends to be overlooked, even though ‘remote’ doesn’t have to mean a virtual system – it can also be remote access to a rack-mounted physical workstation. In this paper, we explore the concept of the rack workstation and look at the opportunities such systems can offer.

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