Virtualization trends in commercial computing offer benefits for cost, reliability, and security, but pose a challenge for military operators who need to visualize lossless imagery in real time. 10 GbE technology enables a standard zero client solution for viewing pixel-perfect C4ISR sensor and graphics information with near zero interactive latency.
For C4ISR systems, ready access to and sharing of visual information at any operator position can increase situational awareness and mission effectiveness. Operators utilize multiple information sources including computers and camera feeds, as well as high-fidelity radar and sonar imagery. Deterministic real-time interaction with remote computers and sensors is required to shorten decision loops and enable rapid actions. A zero client represents the smallest hardware footprint available for manned positions in a distributed computing environment. Zero clients provide user access to remote computers through a networked remote desktop connection or virtual desktop infrastructure. Utilizing a 10 GbE media network for interconnecting multiple computers, sensors, and clients provides the real-time performance and image quality required for critical visualization operations. The cost of deploying a 10 GbE infrastructure is falling rapidly and 10G/40G has become the baseline for data center server interconnect. Additionally, deploying common multifunction crew-station equipment at all operator positions brings system-level cost and logistics benefits. The following discussion examines the evolution to thinner clients and the path to a real-time service-oriented architecture, in addition to looking at zero client benefits and applications.