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Military Streaming Software on Diskless Dell PC clients

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe are testing Ardence software streaming platform to stream the operating system and software applications. By streaming software applications, they hope to make the task of managing a PC as simple as managing a Television set. The issue of managing locally installed programs on individual desktops is eliminated.

The Ardence Desktop creates and stores complete system images on a server and streams portions of the operating system and applications to desktop users at boot-up. Once the user is up and running, additional application and operating system components are fetched as needed. After the initial launch of a program, some products allow portions of the applications to reside in a local cache for faster subsequent loads.

There’s no state left, there’s no fingerprint, and there’s no trail of data of what went on in that PC. Once you turn that PC off, all the data that was there has disappeared. Users simply plug in their PCs, which then request an operating system and a set of applications from the network.

According to Jeff Hibbard of Ardence, PCs don’t require disk drives because the operating system and applications are streamed from centrally managed servers. Data is stored on a storage-area network or network-attached storage. This greatly improves security and reduces computer maintenance and associated costs.

For added security, another capability, called port blocker, allows administrators to disable specific ports or devices, preventing users from attaching printers or local storage devices, he said.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe is an Air Force major command and the air component of the U.S. European Command. USAFE headquarters is located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Similar software streaming technology is used in the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Energy Department laboratories, schools and commercial sector for distributing trial software to clients.

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