November 18, 2020

Virtual Workstation - Everything you need to know about VW's in 2020

Piotr Chomczyk
Piotr Chomczyk

Virtual workstations and cloud solutions are taking the companding (demanding a lot of computing power - that's our word, don't judge) industries such as 3D design, Machine Learning, or filmmaking industries by storm.

But if you are someone who knows your craft well, you might not have the time span to learn new things about technology, cloud, protocols, and all that mumbo-jumbo that comes with working on virtual workstations.

In this article, in simple words, I will try to explain what is a virtual workstation, what are the benefits of using it, and how to test out if this type of service is for you.

Enjoy the reading!

What's a virtual workstation?

A virtual workstation is a powerful workstation powered by GPU and hosted in the cloud.

Think of it as your standard workstation, but one that can scale to your project's needs, thanks to cloud technology. You can use all your software with the same software licenses, but whenever you need more computing power, you can easily adjust the parameters (such as CPU, GPU, disc size) of your virtual workstation.

Why you would want to use a virtual workstation?

The idea of a virtual workstation came with the growing need for computing power.

With complicated algorithms like NLP (Natural-Language-Processing), Machine Learning, or 3D rendering, artists and creators need access to computing power that stretches well beyond what their physical workstations (like PC or Mac) can offer.

The complicity of such tasks translates to either high costs of running such business or much time spent on the computing process. Neither of those is a part of a well-performing, cost-effective business, be it freelancing or a corporation.

Virtual workstations answer this call, by introducing scalable virtual machines you can work on in the same way as you would normally on a physical workstation. Lots of works ahead of you? Get access to all the power you might need for your project. No work at hand? Scale down your virtual workstations and pay nothing or just a small price for continuous work.

Who can benefit from using virtual workstations?

Any creator really. 3D artists, filmmakers, Machine Learning developers, gamers. The power offered by virtual workstation can serve multiple purposes, and depending on the provider's offer and technology, will be better for a different use case.

As an example, Renderro is a cloud workplace designed for filmmakers, 3D artists, and graphic designers. This means that the best use case for Renderro would be moving your post-production work to the cloud. Both the toolset and technology behind it is optimized to work perfectly with tools used by those professionals.

Renderro Cloud Workplace

On the other hand, you have Paperspace, which specializes in Machine Learning computing, and 3D design.

Paperspace

Both of those are based on a virtual workstation, yet the purpose and the technology stack was designed for specific niches.

Virtual workstations can be used by anyone who needs a lot of computing power, but it's best to find the product fitting your business best.

If you are running a company or working in a team, virtual workstations take a lot of day-to-day pain away. You don't have to worry about transferring big project files with physical drives or slow bandwidth. Your team can work on virtual drives and share access to the same files they work on.

How to set up a virtual workstation?

The key benefit of the virtual workstation is that you need nothing more than a device with a browser and an internet connection. Because all the hardware hussle is moved to the cloud, the operations performed on your physical device require close to no computing power.

The quality of your connection will surely depend on your location and the location of the server, where the physical part of your virtual workstation is located.

If you are using Renderro, you are using one of the plug-and-play products. All you have to do is to set up your drives, set up the workstation, and you are ready to go with either a desktop app or via a browser connection.

The security behind virtual workstations

Storing files in the cloud means storing them in medical- and army-grade protected directories.

The data you are working on in your workstation isn't transferred to your local client, meaning that there is no weak spot where it could be exposed.

There are various technical nuances related to the security of this connection and they vary with each virtual workstation service provider.

Renderro uses the TGX protocol with robust 2048-bit key SSL encryption.
It provides secure communication between the workstation and client devices.

TGX ensures that encrypted pixels are being transferred between the workstation and the target device.

The data on workstation drives never leaves workstations during the TGX connection.

Each workstation contains a certificate with a fingerprint which is checked during the connection to ensure that the customer is connecting to the right host. We use one-time credentials, unique for each connection - no user password is being transferred when establishing the connection.

The pricing models of virtual workstations

The pricing models or virtual workstations may vary. Some providers use a monthly subscription model, that commits the user to a specific monthly expense on the virtual workstation.

The second most popular way of billing users is a pay-as-you-go model, offered by Renderro. With this model, you pay only for the resources and the time in which you actually use them. This means, that whenever you have a lot of demanding work to complete, you can expect a straightforward payment plan, and when things get quiet, your running costs of the virtual workstation drop to zero.

Virtual workstation pricing
Renderro pricing

This is a benefit not offered by any other service in the industry. Upgrading your whole studio with the additional graphic card, or another 10TB of drive space happens in a matter of minutes and isn't related to any longer-term costs or loan for expensive physical setups.

Conclusion

So if you are either a freelancer looking for a powerful service that will speed up your work, a manager that wants his team to cooperate safely on shared files, or a big studio that is being overwhelmed with deadlines, the virtual workstation service is something you surely want to try out.

To test things out at your own pace, Renderro offers $10 of free credits to use on any of our virtual workstations, no strings attached.

about author

Piotr Chomczyk

CEO & Co-founder of Renderro
Founder and CEO of Renderro with over 10 years of experience in the film industry as a creator.
Main writer and content creator for Renderro blog, where he posts his experiences and thoughts on the industry.

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