HP to Acquire PCoIP Developer Teradici

What will this mean for Dell, VMware, and ZCentral Remote Boost?

HP today announced it will acquire Canadian developer Teradici, the company behind the PCoIP remote desktop protocol (short for personal-computer-over-internet-protocol).

It’s a curious acquisition.

PCoIP is one of the leading remote desktop protocols on the market. It’s the default protocol for VMware, one of the leading virtualization providers, as well as the default protocol for Amazon WorkSpaces, a major desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) provider.

But that’s not why it’s a curious acquisition.

What’s so curious is that HP already has its own in-house remote desktop protocol, a rival to PCoIP called ZCentral Remote Boost (until 2019, this protocol was called RGS, short for Remote Graphics Software). The two protocols are in direct competition. Both PCoIP and Remote Boost target high performance users like engineers, architects, and media pros. Both protocols have been in active development for nearly two decades. Both won an Engineering Emmy in 2020 and won’t shut up about it. 

(For more information on these and other remote desktop protocols, see our latest research report: What is the Best Remote Desktop Protocol for Engineers?)

So why is HP buying PCoIP when they have a very similar product already?

“We’re investing pretty heavily here, so it’s an exciting space,” hinted Christian Jones, Strategy and Business Planner for Z by HP, when I spoke with him back in March about ZCentral Remote Boost. At the time, I had no way of knowing just which investment Jones was referring to. I wouldn’t have guessed it, either, since Jones spent the rest of the interview explaining why Remote Boost should be the remote protocol of choice for engineers.

“We’re continually told by customers that in many respects, [HP ZCentral Remote Boost] is the better [protocol],” Jones said at the time. To be fair, he did add the following, now cast in a new light: “Other protocols are good, and they do some innovative things and they’ve got some really smart developers and intelligent teams.”

HP has not disclosed the financial terms of the acquisition.

What Does the Teradici Acquisition Mean for Dell and VMware?

Before today, each of the three main workstation OEMs—Dell, HP, and Lenovo—had a remote desktop protocol of choice. HP’s was naturally ZCentral Remote Boost, the only protocol to be developed in-house. Lenovo partners with Mechdyne, developer of the TGX remote desktop protocol. Dell’s preferred protocol for years has been PCoIP, and it’s worth noting that Dell owns VMware, which hosts many PCoIP users and is directly responsible for the popularity of the protocol today.

HP’s acquisition of Teradici will surely shift this existing dynamic, though exactly how it will shift is not yet clear. Will HP continue to develop ZCentral Remote Boost alongside PCoIP? Will one or the other be axed? Will they be merged together?

Neither HP nor Teradici has offered specifics, but the press release from HP includes this suitably vague statement: “Combining the two remote access solutions will enable HP to offer a broader remote compute platform that spans on-premise and cloud solutions from any type of device, including macOS, public clouds, and iPad and Android tablets.”

And what of Dell, and its subsidiary VMware? For the past five years, VMware has been developing its own remote desktop protocol, called Blast Extreme (not to be confused with the water slide of the same name). Blast Extreme is not yet on par with the performance of the 17-year-old PCoIP, but it does give Dell something to fall back on if HP decides to keep PCoIP for itself.

Right now there are still more questions than there are answers. The acquisition will be finalized in Q4 of this year, pending all the usual stipulations, so we’ll have to wait at least a couple more months to learn more.

For more information on remote desktop protocols, check out engineering.com’s new research report: What is the Best Remote Desktop Protocol for Engineers?

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at engineering.com. He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.