PCoIP performance over lossy networks.

This week as you guys know, I spent quite a lot of time at Citrix Synergy 2010 in San Francisco and during that time we were able to extensively test how all major remote display protocols work over the real world WAN and in a certain way, what we saw simply validated what I was expecting to see.

First of all, let me define real world WAN and explain how we actually know what this is. If you are not familiar with our technology, IPQ, it is a packet loss reduction mechanism that works between two end points. As we adapt according to the network conditions, we must know at any given time what these are. That is the reason why our endpoints exchange a beacon at all times. This gives us over 25 stats that we use to determine the most effective way to deal with packet loss in real time.

Of course all that information gets stored and we can plot what we are seeing right within our web interface. And guess what? During this week we spent in San Francisco, doing our demos from a hotel room using the provided internet connection – the exact same one all of you had in your rooms – we have seen packet loss at all times. How much? From 1% all the way to 15% (burst loss). The bottom line here is simple: loss is guaranteed out there and it is MUCH higher than the 0.5% loss that Brian and Gabe used on their WAN simulator during the VDI Geek Week shootout. That is the reason why ICA, RDP and PCoIP performed relatively well on their ‘WAN’. In the real world, with unpredictable conditions, performance is not really like that. I am not saying that loss will be high and will be there at all times. I am just saying loss will get you several times during the day. When and how much that will be no one knows. But it will be there. For sure.

So back to the topic, how well does PCoIP perform over the real world WAN? Not that well as expected. And here is the living proof of that. Notice how much better PCoIP gets when IPQ is brought to the picture. It gets almost as good as ICA (in case you did not see our tests with ICA, go here).

No matter what VMWare and Teradici tells you, TCP with its retransmission techniques, in this particular type of connection (PPTP VPN), DOES perform much, MUCH better than PCoIP. Just watch the two videos for yourself (the PCoIP is also available in high definition 720p). At 3% loss ICA simply smokes PCoIP (that without our technology is virtually unusable – again, over PPTP. LT2P may change things, making PCoIP closer to ICA over the WAN). The game changes completely when IPQ is on. ICA improves for sure (again, watch the videos) but PCoIP at that point really shines. The improvement is brutal, huge. At the end we turn something that is really unusable over the lossy WAN into something people can actually use. It is that much of an improvement.

In case you want the direct YouTube links, here you have them:

ICA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw5lBk-bdv8
PCoIP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXpbawlg90Y

The bottom line is simple. All current implementations for remote display technologies do suffer over the real world WAN. The idea of our technology is to work as ‘Network Insurance’ for your connection. If the conditions are good we know that thanks to our beacon exchange and at that stage we simply turn ourselves off. But when loss comes, we are there to protect you. Exactly like your insurance company. You have it and hope not to use it. Ever. But when you need it, you know it is there and that you can count on it.

That is what we are. Network Insurance for you and your users.


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5 Replies to “PCoIP performance over lossy networks.”

  1. For both of the options (ICA & PCoIP) what did the infrastructure look like? Were you VPN’d in from SF to Ottawa? How was the VPN configured? How did you insert the 3% packet loss? Could you please provide more details around how the test was set up?


    1. Hi Christoph,

      If you pay attention to the video you will notice I am running Parallels and inside my XP Parallels VM, the full blown PCoIP VMWare View client. You may question what the performance impact that may cause and before you ask that, I can already tell you. 🙂 We tested with several computers, PCs and Macs, with Windows XP/Vista/7 and also under Parallels. Exact same results. As my best recording software was for Mac I decided to post the video recorded on Mac but again, the exact same results/performance was seen when using the VMWare View Client running on native Windows OSs (not under Parallels).

  2. The two videos do not show ICA smoking PCoIP over the WAN with 3% packet loss thrown in the mix. What this video shows is what happens if you try to tunnel a UDP based protocol (PCoIP) through a TCP based tunnel (PPTP). In this case your technology will improve the performance just as you indicate. If you were to leverage a UDP based VPN connection the WAN performance would be entirely different. With 3% packet loss it may (or may not) perform better than what you’re showing above.

    If your going to post a series of videos please be kind enough to fully document to us the architecture you’re demoing so we can be sure it is applicable to the real world. In neither the ICA nor the PCoIP do you provide these details. Only after a private dialog have you chosen to disclose in mostly vague terms what the true connection stack was.

    1. The details of the connection are very clear. Simple RRAS PPTP. Nothing more than that. As mentioned on the audio, 3% loss being injected on TOP of the existing loss (that we could see bursting to up to 15-18%). I did not choose PPTP to make PCoIP look bad at all. I simply used it because it is what my own companies use and we have never experienced any issues with any other solution. Agreed it may not be the best for PCoIP. I hope VMWare clearly explains to their customers that if they are indeed using a PPTP VPN solution they may face performance issues with PCoIP.
      Tests will be done at a later time using L2TP. See the thread at Brian’s website. Our CTO even asked VMWare if you guys want to do some tests together on your own environment.

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