IT departments go to great lengths to make the end user virtualization experience seamless to those users. The easier it is for them, the more self-sufficient they become, and that’s when virtualization provides genuine benefits.

However, as virtualization has matured, so has complexity and expense. The reality is that Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop and VMware Horizon View require significant planning and expertise in order to be suitable for production. A multitude of resources—including people, equipment, time, and money—are necessary behind the scenes in order to make virtualization a reality. Each of these resources has a downstream impact that needs to be factored into virtualization solutions.

Complex virtualization architectures are a two-edged sword. On the positive side, scalability is ensured, and administrators can custom tailor many finer details to address specific requirements. But all of this comes at a premium price for large organizations.

In order to address the low-end market, Citrix has recognized the gap and has attempted to tackle this marketplace with XenApp Fundamentals and VDI in a Box. Both of these all-in-one solutions have simplified virtualization by eliminating the extraneous bells and whistles. But are these products basic enough, and are they priced correctly?

As expected, new vendors are encroaching on the established players. New solutions have been introduced into the marketplace by startup companies—and they’re gaining traction. For example, PowWow and Sphere 3D are new players that are gaining momentum from clients that desire simple virtualization solutions. From a business standpoint, these new vendors appear to be well funded and, more importantly, have a laser-like focus on technology.

One of the key benefits of these new basic virtualization solutions is that setup is fast and easy, typically just a matter of a few clicks. The new vendors are methodically streamlining  installation and configuration, knowing that this is one of their key selling points. In addition, these vendors have strategically designed their products with minimal support and administration requirements, such that there’s no need to have an onsite administrator on the payroll exclusively for virtualization.

Further, these newer, innovative solutions focus on providing a great mobile user experience without complexity—out of the box. That means that the installation of the client component, bandwidth, and access to resources all function optimally. And because these vendors are new in the market, they have to provide excellent support in the rare cases where it’s even needed.

Will the big-name vendors succeed in the small-end virtualization marketplace? To some extent, yes, but they will have more and more competition nipping at their heels. Citrix and VMware aren’t focused on virtualization solutions for smaller companies; they concentrate on large organizations and complex requirements.

The virtualization solution market for user environments consisting of fewer than one hundred users is ripe for all-in-one innovations, especially where mobility is clearly addressed. New entrants into this market will likely succeed if their solutions can address highly graphical mobile applications as part of the end user experience. They will be able to address the gap, because the large vendors are focused on more complex solutions—and on each other.

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Jo Harder (35 Posts)

Jo Harder has been involved with virtualization for over 15 years, long before virtualization was the norm. After holding several sales and marketing positions, she started down the path of bits and bytes while at AT&T/Lucent Technologies. She then moved onto Citrix in 1999, where she became a Senior Architect. Her 11-year tenure included a combination of Citrix Consulting and Technical Readiness roles. After leaving Citrix, Jo provided consulting services for various clients for the next year. In her current role at a hosting provider, she is focused on cloud-based solutions for financial industry clients.

Jo's diverse background of sales, marketing, management, and architectural/technical expertise brings a unique perspective to Virtualization Practice. She welcomes input from vendors, industry contacts, and end users and can be reached at joharder@virtualizationpractice.com.

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1 comment for “The Smaller Side of Virtualization

  1. MikeD
    August 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Very good points about the “big boys” not catering to SMB’s. If these smaller startups can provide seamless API scalability into the AWS or Azure cloud (if/when their target audience expands out of the SMB market), they’ll really have something. In the private cloud market, for example, Eucalyptus has something good going with their AWS integration.

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