Application Virtualization: Is It Really the Tale of the Hypervisor?

What influence do hypervisor offerings from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft have on the application virtualization vendor solution? In the case of VMware’s Horizon View, there is only one choice, because the product does not function with any other hypervisor. And in the case of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop, many organizations that use this technology are based on Hyper-V, because they are Microsoft-only shops. But what about Citrix? 

From a hypervisor perspective, Citrix has had an on-again, off-again focus on XenServer and Hyper-V and a tolerance for VMware. Although it initially appeared that the acquisition of XenSource in 2007 would result in a strong hypervisor offering, that strategy didn’t materialize. As a result of Citrix’s not having its own robust hypervisor product, its customers have had to look to other hypervisor vendors to fulfill that need. Hyper-V has achieved limited market share with its hypervisor solution; however, VMware has effectively capitalized on the opportunity.

Today, VMware is the de facto hypervisor standard for Citrix implementations. While some might argue that the hypervisor is irrelevant, organizations that have chosen vSphere have wedged open the opportunity for VMware to upsell them additional products. As such, more VMware hypervisor customers are now considering Horizon View for their application and virtualization solution.

In addition to offering compelling pricing and an adequate application and desktop virtualization solution, VMware is offering “one-stop shopping” for virtualization. VMware knows quite well that from a sales perspective, once a customer has purchased just one of your products, the sales effort associated with selling additional products is less than that required to attract new customers. “Hear ye, hear ye: Get your hypervisor and your application and desktop virtualization solution from one vendor!”

During 2014, the industry buzz has shifted from desktop virtualization back to application virtualization. In January, Citrix re-announced XenApp and removed it from its hiding-place behind XenDesktop. No doubt, this announcement was a proactive response to the upcoming Horizon View release. It has been six months since VMware announced that Horizon View would feature application virtualization as well as desktop virtualization. The remainder of the year has been peppered with incremental announcements focusing on minor features.

Although Horizon View does not have a full feature set comparable with XenApp/XenDesktop just yet, it’s apparent that VMware is working feverishly to give it one. But considering that not all customers require XenApp/XenDesktop’s full feature set, for some vSphere customers, the current capabilities of Horizon View may be deemed sufficient.

In addition to looking at attractive sales offers, even the most devoted Citrix customers are taking a peek to see what VMware has to offer within Horizon View. For unhappy XenApp/XenDesktop customers who use VMware’s hypervisor, adoption of Horizon View may be on the horizon.

Competition in the application virtualization marketplace will only get hotter in 2015. Competition will cause each vendor to produce better products, as well as to provide better service to its customers. VMware has everything to gain by converting XenApp/XenDesktop customers to Horizon View. Citrix will need to step up its game in order to ensure that vSphere customers perceive XenApp/XenDesktop as the better solution.

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