What’s new in Stratodesk’s NoTouch OS Velma Lakes release?

Stratodesk overhauled their thin client software with new management, cloud, and architectural features.

Stratodesk announced the day before Christmas that the new generation of their NoTouch software, dubbed Velma Lakes, is now generally available.

I spoke with founder and CEO Emanuel Pirker to learn about what new features got added into the Velma Lakes release.

Velma Lakes net-new features

Emanuel highlighted several new operating system, management, and cloud features of Velma Lakes.

On the OS side, he said that Stratodesk overhauled the NoTouch infrastructure with new architecture compared to the last generation’s release, Cathedral Peak. Stratodesk improved NoTouch so that it can now do multi-OS deployments.

When it comes to updating your devices, NoTouch Center, Stratodesk’s management platform, helps automates aspects of this. Admins use the management console to specify what version of NoTouch they want and NoTouch Center resolves this by creating the right firmware image for the different devices. Like if you use NComputing in your deployments, NoTouch Center will create the proper image needed; it can even create an image for custom devices.

The most immediate change admins will notice when upgrading to Velma Lakes is that the NoTouch Center console GUI was updated into a tree view, with drag and drop capabilities. 

Another new management feature that's part of this release is HTML5-based shadowing. While Stratodesk already supports VNC, such as TeamViewer, now HTML5 shadowing is integrated onto their server. NoTouch Center serves as the hub, adding SSH tunnels on top of the VNC traffic, and also handling the key exchange.

HTML5-based shadowing also works with the new Cloud Xtension feature, which allows for Stratodesk NoTouch Center to manage devices via HTTPS for organizations with remote users. Cloud Xtension creates a secure tunnel via HTTPS so there’s no need to open your organization’s firewall or require the use of a VPN.

NoTouch Center is now fully cloud, with organizations able to choose from either Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS as their cloud vendor. It can be either run on prem or from the cloud, it just depends on a customer’s needs. One use case example is for healthcare organizations. It’s useful for NoTouch not to be located on prem so it’s not touching customer data, requiring less compliance issues.

One new add-on feature is disk encryption. Stratodesk developed this capability due to the ongoing issue with organizations regarding data compliance. Thin clients store the OS image and device configuration along with some app caches, but not customer data. However, Stratodesk wants to make sure you’re protected from someone modifying that cache, like changing the binary around a plug-in, such as Microsoft Teams.

Roadmap plans

Stratodesk plans to eventually fully spin out their NoTouch Center authentication features into a cloud service, while keeping NoTouch Center local. This service would allow for authentication with more third-party providers. You can do that a little bit already, such as using Login with Facebook.

Expect more plug-ins to be added in the future similar to the Teams integration, with Stratodesk working with Liquidware and Zoom, among others. Stratodesk integrated Teradici’s PCoIP technology into NoTouch OS in late 2019.

Part of the Velma Lakes overhaul of NoTouch includes more modularization to better integrate with plug-ins. Emanuel says Stratodesk starts with the kernel and modules are added tightly on top to allow for a small compressed image that allow plug-ins to be loaded.

They’re also working on integrations for Amazon Workspaces and Windows Virtual Desktop. They’re actively developing this feature, with Workspaces integration available already; it just isn’t formally announced.

Final thoughts

Stratodesk is working to be seen as more than just a thin client OS and management vendor. They now consider themselves beyond traditional thin client computing with their Velma Lakes release and recent partnerships (like their partnership with ThinPrint). Stratodesk still offers organizations thin client services, yes, but they also provide what they're marketing as an edge computing and Internet of Things platform.

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