VMware vSphere is not supported.
The Nx Top Center is designed
for use in an open-minded Microsoft shop. It uses a database to track
users and machines and requires
either Microsoft SQL Express or
SQL Server. The center needs to be
integrated with Active Directory and
uses the directory data to provision
users and groups.
At the same time, the Nx Top platform is a heavy user of open-source
technology. The platform installs
an Apache Tomcat Web server to
provide the administrative console,
and the user-client components use
Linux open-source products to provide basic services.
Thus, the NxTop Engine is a
Linux-based, bare-metal hypervisor.
I installed the Nx Top Engine on several Dell, HP and Lenovo (and older
IBM) laptops, as well as on an HP
dc7700p desktop system. The Nx Top
Engine hosts the centrally created and
managed virtual desktops on the local
hardware. It also provides underlying
management services, such as policy-based check-in with the Nx Top Center.
The engine also provides a basic
virtual desktop called the NxTop
Connect, which includes a Google
Chrome Web browser, a Skype client
and an assortment of other simple
applications. Administrators can use
policy to exclude the Connect desktop from being presented to users.
There is a one-time connection
process between the engine and the
center that was a little tricky. Users
had to enter their credentials and
a server name. Once the registration process was completed, I was
pleasantly surprised by the polished
user interface, which presented the
virtual desktop systems that were
published to my account.
How NxTop works
Nx Top provisions centrally cre-
ated and managed virtual desktops
to user systems based on user and
group credentials. My test virtual
desktops ran Windows XP SP2
and Windows 7 SP1, although
Nx Top can also deploy Linux-
based virtual desktops.
After installing the NxTop
Engine on a desktop or laptop
system and making a connection
to the Nx Top Center, the virtual
machine and applications appro-
priate to my user credentials were
hosted on my local system. My
user experience was nearly identi-
cal to using a similar desktop as
if it were installed on the local
Using the central policy engine,
I mandated that AES 256 full-
disk encryption be used for the
ª localº hard drive. That added a
further layer of protection in case
the hardware on which the Nx Top
virtual machine was running was
lost or stolen.
Using the policy component
of the NxTop Center, I was able
to specify how often Nx Top sys-
tems were backed up, when they
expired, when they would be
locked out, how often to check
for an operating system profile
change and what USB use would
These policies also enabled
remote wipe and kill that allowed
me to disable NxTop when they
reconnected to the Nx Top Center.
IT managers will need to spend
some time mastering these policy
settings to control the Nx Top desktop life cycle. The policy engine is
straightforward, and IT managers
should have little trouble implementing policy changes that customize Nx Top operations. «
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR CAMERON STURDEVANT
CAN BE REACHED AT CSTURDEVANT@
Nx Top uses either operating system ISOs or imported virtual machines to create the
end-user desktop systems.
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