HP introduces turnkey high-powered ZCentral remote workstation solution

HP targets mobile power users with a solution whose software allows remote access to access pooled workstation power from almost any device.

Today, HP is announcing what it is terming a next-gen workstation solution with HP ZCentral, a single sourced remote workstation solution. It combines HP workstations with ZCentral Remote Boost software, that lets an end user access the workstation’s performance on their choice of device, and ZCentral Connect software that accelerates compute workflows by allowing the secure and remote management of a pool of workstation power.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting one,” said Anu Herranen, Director of New Product Introduction for Z by HP and VR. “This solution seamlessly combines three components: our rack-mounted Z by HP workstations, our ZCentral Remote Boost software, which is a rebranding of our RGS [Remote Graphics Software], and our ZCentral Connect software to accelerate compute workflows.”

ZCentral is a remote workstation solution designed to centralize high-end compute power in a single location to provide more power to remote and mobile workers who use graphics-intensive applications. HP sees this very much as a solution to appeal to younger workers who want a more fluid workstyle.

“Today we are seeing changes in the workforce, including aggressive competition for specialized talent,” Herranen said. “That includes embracing remote workers for whom relocation may not be an option. 53% of hiring decision makers said that a shortage of talent was consideration in wanting more flexible workflows.” This complements a continued workplace trend of a demand for more diverse platforms and devices, while dealing with reduced budgets.

“We are also seeing a change in workstyles, with a rise in mobility and heavier workloads,” Herranen added. “With more meetings taking in place in huddle rooms, and the growth in teleworking, there is a need for more fluid GPU and CPU acceleration anywhere.”

ZCentral is designed specifically for this use case, to provide high performance workstation performance to power uses working in remote and flexible locations. The ZCentral Remote Boost Software  provides this access to Z Workstation performance from almost any device. It also lets IT assign dedicated workstations to individuals or create pools for groups to share with HP ZCentral Connect Software.

“ZCentral will lead this new era of high-performance computing,” Herranen said.

The Z by HP Workstations are the hardware core of ZCentral – although they are actually the least interesting of the three components because there is no new product or functionality, just HP’s existing rack-mounted Z Workstation portfolio, from the high end Z8 to the Desktop Mini.

“They allow the collating of data and compute for security and faster load times, with high security, high performance and professional graphics,” Herranen stated.

The ZCentral Remote Boost software is not new either, since it was called RGS before, but Herranen stressed that it has undergone a major upgrade. It is really the guts of ZCentral’s functionality, because it is what allows the end user to access the workstation level performance on their choice of device.

“The Remote Boost Software is the same software as RGS, but it has more capabilities,” Herranen said.  “It provides a 1:1 dedicated connection for unthrottled performance, is application independent, and senses pixels not data.”

The major addition is new collaboration capabilities.

“The improved collaboration tools are completely new, and allow collaboration in real time,” Herranen emphasized. “It is the only high-speed remote access software that allows this.

The imaging quality, which provides high-performance on VFX, simulation and 3D, has been improved. Support for Ubuntu Linux has also been added, so that  ZCentral Remote Boost now works with Windows, Linux or MacOS devices.

ZCentral Connect Software provides the pooling capability that allows IT departments to flexibly share a pool of workstations to each user through a single interface, on almost any end point device.

“ZCentral Connect allows the management of a pool of workstation power securely and remotely,” Herranen said.  “It does this with one-click access. You don’t need to write down IP addresses, and you don’t need technical knowledge. You also have the ability to launch Remote Boost software directly from ZCentral Connect.”

Herranen emphasized that ZCentral isn’t limited to managing HP endpoints.

“It can take a full portfolio of both HP and other endpoint devices, including thin clients,” she said. “We don’t limit customers to HP only. That’s one of the critical elements, that it can be equipped with almost any endpoint device. This is a major cost saving.”

ZCentral is being targeted at market segments which feature significant numbers of mobile power users, like media and entertainment, architecture, product development, oil and gas, finance and education.

HP says ZCentral has significant costs advantages over managing various platforms and devices through virtualized workstations while offering secure remote access to users. Herranen said that ZCentral offers 16%-33% higher performance through dedicated performance of CPU and GPY resources. Costs, reduced by having a turnkey solution with one vendor for all support and services and standard ISV licensing, are assessed at 59%-72% of the cost of a Dell virtualized workstation. The data are based on hp.com store and dell.com store pricing dated September 2019, and performance based on core count of a racked-mounted HP Z4 G4, 6 core workstation configuration with 3 year warranty support, compared with two configurations of Dell PowerEdge R740 Rack Server configured with VMware Horizon Advanced 10 pack CCu license and 3 year support, Quadro Virtual Data Center Workstation hardware and licenses, and 3 year support.

The hardware is all available now. Both the HP ZCentral Remote Boost software and the HP ZCentral Connect software will be available in early 2020. Pricing will be announced at a later date. Betas for both for current customers are available now.

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