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Q: Renting Virtual PC's ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: Renting Virtual PC's
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: whrab-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 08 Feb 2006 16:47 PST
Expires: 28 Feb 2006 16:57 PST
Question ID: 443340
Is there a place where I can rent "virtual" Windows PC's, accessible
over the internet?
My company needs a dozen or so Windows machines to do some
number-crunching.  They will be mostly unattended.  One person could
operate all twelve machines at maximum efficiency.  Instead of buying
12 physical PC's and a renting air-conditioned space to house them and
power them, is there a company that will lease "virtual" PC's,
accessible from a single client PC physically located in the office,
with each remote PC's desktop as a separate window on the client's
desktop?  I imagine the window showing each virtual PC would look
similar to RealVNC, RAdmin, and the like.  Each virtual PC would need
to be the equiv of a P4 with 50GB HD space, and would need to be able
to occassionally send/receive up to 1GB files to/from the client over
a Cable internet connection.  Also, the lease would be have to be
short term, month-to-month.
I tried looking into Citrix, but it appears that you need your own
physical mainframe to use it.  Is there a place that leases Citrix?

Request for Question Clarification by cynthia-ga on 09 Feb 2006 15:39 PST
Hi whrab,

There is one way to do it using real PC's, but I am unfamiliar with
how to get it operational, and what the requirements are, but it's a

SETI-at-home uses it, as well as many other companies with
time-intensive number crunching projects.

Check this out:

Overview of BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing)

If this is helpful, let me know.


Request for Question Clarification by cynthia-ga on 09 Feb 2006 15:42 PST
One better link:

Creating BOINC projects

Clarification of Question by whrab-ga on 09 Feb 2006 17:01 PST
Hi, Cynthia

I took a look at the BOINC website, and it appears that it is a
distributed computing service.  That is very interesting but not what
I'm looking for for this particular project.  In fact, I want
something that is pretty much the opposite of that.

The software I will be using on each virtual PC is statistical
modeling software, developed by someone else, and restricted to the
Windows OS.  I cannot legally modify it.  It will be handling
proprietary data, and the results will be intellectual property of
this company.  Unlike the SETI project, my project has limited public
appeal, and, even if it didn't, I would not be willing to share the

The basic idea is I want a computer I can access remotely, but I don't
want to own it, set it up, maintain it, or dispose of it.  Therefore,
it doesn't even have to be a real computer... It can be a timeslice
from larger faster computer, as long as it is presented to me to look
like an independent workstation.

To clarify, the RealVNC client looks like this:
and I imagine the interface with each "leased" computer would look just like it.

To address the comment, below, thank you for your suggestions.
Regarding Bandwidth limitation,
   - I don't need to view/operate all the desktops at the same time. 
The software I will use on each machine requires about ten minutes of
set up and 12 hours of unattended number-crunching.  I know from using
RealVNC that my home computer can easily operate at least 3 remote
desktops at the same time, at full color, with each desktop in a
separate window.

Disadvantages to renting the physical computers:
   - They are hot and noisy, and I already have 2 in my bedroom and
two more in my living room.
   - I would need to set them up in some other location, pay rent,
electric bill, cable internet bill, etc. for that location, network
them with routers, and add remote admin software to each one so it
could view and operate them from the comfort of my home.


Clarification of Question by whrab-ga on 28 Feb 2006 16:57 PST
The most correct solution was posted in one of the comments, below.
"Have you considered working a deal with a local school/non-profit?"

My team has worked out a deal with a local school to remotely access
some of the PC's in their computer lab during the night.

Thank you, robertfranz-ga.

Thank you all for your help.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Renting Virtual PC's
From: frenchcancan-ga on 09 Feb 2006 12:29 PST

well, looking at your numbers , i would say it does not exists and if
it does, your internet connection will be overloaded and you will not
get performances. You need real pcs, why don t you rent real pcs?
Virtual is cool i am using  vnc  for my customers. If one pc get
stuck, vnc dies and you will loose access. If you need calculation
power , ask ibm if they have a solution, i know they provide this kind
of services with linux and mainframes
Subject: Re: Renting Virtual PC's
From: robertfranz-ga on 11 Feb 2006 15:12 PST
It sounds to me like what you are looking for are actual servers -
just accessed remotely.

Without poking into your business, I am curious why "12 or so" machines?

Do they need to interact with each other? Is the 12 machine estimate
to crunch the data within a narrow time frame?

I'm thinking dedicated servers through a web host. I use -
but most hosts can provide the same thing. 1and1 has windows servers
with rdp access so you can use Remote Desktop or VNC to access them.
You would be looking at about $190/month per machine plus $99 setup
for month to month.

I'm sure prices vary - but I'm a cheap sod so I doubt other hosts
would be *much* cheaper.

How long a time frame are you looking at for your project?

It's certainly possible to do if you have no budget constraints.

Have you considered working a deal with a local school/non-profit?

You buy the PC's - they house them for the duration of the project -
then you donate them and take the tax writeoff?

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