Citrix Reach Out for the SME market with Kaviza Aquisition

One of the initial announcements at Citrix Synergy was that Kaviza,who developed one of the first all-in-one “VDI-in-a-Box” solutions for small and medium business, have been acquired by Citrix. The acquisition adds a fast-track VDI-only solution to the Citrix portfolio. The Kaviza “VDI-in-a-Box” product is billed as complementing the Citrix’s  XenDesktop product line for enterprise-class desktop virtualization.

Many organisations – small to medium businesses especially – have been hesitant to adopt VDI given the cost and complexity of deploying a hosted desktop infrastructure. A complexity which we’ve discussed in a previous article. With this in mind, Kaviza architected their VDI-in-a-Box solution from the ground up to give customers simple, low-cost VDI solution purpose-built for their needs.

Citrix are now known for their enterprise-ready application and desktop virtualisation products, but they started out with their WinFrame product marketed as a departmental/SMB/SME solution for remote working. Is the purchase of Kaviza a sign that Citrix are going back to their roots? Branching into areas that Citrix had left clear to be covered by the likes of 2X, Ericom, Quest and VMware? What can existing Kaviza expect from the deal?

Kaviza VDI-in-a-Box
As a first step – lets take a quick look at what Citrix have acquired. Kaviza’s VDI-in-a-Box is a virtual  appliance designed to give SMB/SME customers everything they need to deploy VDI. This “all-in-one” solution is intended to simplify VDI adoption for SMB customers with a design that requires:

  • No separate connection brokers
  • No load balancers
  • No provisioning servers
  • No expensive shared network storage

In fact no customised hardware at all. The intention is to install the appliance on commodity hardware. Kaviza claim their VDI-in-Box:

  • Installs quickly and is easy to manage – A single all-in-one virtual appliance enables the full production deployment of virtual desktops in two hours or less. Additional servers can be deployed and connected to the grid in minutes. A simple administrator interface makes moves, adds and changes simple.
  • Includes Citrix’s HDX technology which is designed to provide a high performance and complete virtual desktop capabilities to any device, or any network, while minimizing bandwidth requirements.
  • Utilizes simple, cost-effective infrastructure to provide a high return on investment – The grid architecture delivers a highly available solution with fewer servers than traditional VDI solutions and no shared storage or management servers.
  • Provides flexibility and choice – The open architecture provides multi-hypervisor support for Citrix XenServer and VMware ESX. Microsoft Hyper-V support is scheduled as “coming soon”.

Customers can continue to purchase VDI-in-a-box from Kaviza resellers. Starting July 1, 2011 customers will also be able to buy from Citrix Solution Advisors.

What About XenDesktop?

Yes, what about it? And indeed the rest of the Citrix product line? How will the Kaviza solution be incorporated in Citrix FlexCast message? It is perhaps fair to say that XenDesktop isn’t geared towards smaller environments: the SMB market is difficult to approach with a XenDesktop solution because the infrastructure and design phase require for XenDesktop can take too long and can be too complex to introduce. In an attempt to remedy this, major changes were brought into XenDesktop 5 in order to make Proof of Concept/Pilots more readily deployable and demonstrable – especially when compared to equivalent XenApp projects and competitive hosted desktop solutions. Yet still XenDesktop 5 is a Big Thing and can appear overly complex and costly in comparison to other solutions.

Other Turnkey Solutions

Kaviza was not the only turnkey VDI solution that Citrix could have purchased. PanoLogic, for instance, their Pano System built on Hyper-V or VMWare vSphere. And perhaps this is the rub -Kaviza was an appliance that was already supported on Citrix’s XenServer and included support for Citrix ICA protocol which is at the heart of the Citrix HDX technologies: and this was because, as we spoke about in April last year, Citrix had already invested heavily in Kaviza

Interestingly we’re also seeing the rise of vendors offering viable Desktop as a Service provisioning with RackSpace announcing at Synergy their Hosted Virtual Desktop platform and Desktone recently announcing that their hosted desktop solution now includes an ICA offering.

As we discussed having a resource grid that allows you to expand out back-end services that deliver and manage your desktops is going to be a benefit, especially for smaller organisations who don’t have large IT teams – but also possibly in offering a service that can be readily sized up by resellers to meet demand of their customers who would benefit from a Desktop as a Service model.

Yet are any Turnkey Solutions viable? What exactly is the key that you are turning. We’ve asked the question before Can you Transform your desktop with Turnkey VDI. Perhaps the answer for many smaller organisations is “yes, yes we can” because that need to move between multiple device types, that need to have internal & external access, that need to have local compute power is overridden simply by a need to provide a core office, stock and financial application set quickly, efficiently and reliably and a standardised and centralised desktop can do that.

Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

The move from Windows XP to Windows 7 is being seen by many – small and large organisations alike – as an opportunity to re-think how a users application workspace is delivered.

Citrix would likely admit that the XenDesktop product was not designed for small desktop deployments. Here, to be fair, their XenApp product offered a more cost effective and easy to manage solution. In addition to the complexity of the product deployment of XenDesktop, Citrix’s price point did not help either. There was an opportunity for the likes of VMware, Quest, 2x and Ericom to offer useful and more cost effective services.

In Citrix turning their investment in Kaviza to outright purchase, Citrix have a ready made solution to allow their partners to better target offerings to small organisations. It is also an opportunity to re-focus on a market that Citrix’s competitors were exploiting and gaining share and momentum in. At  the same time, is it also one last attempt by Citrix to justify keeping development of the XenServer going in the light of an ever increasing move by businesses to Microsoft’s Hyper-V? It will be interesting to see how the product is integrated into the Xen family – not least the name. Citrix are often accused of “upsetting Microsoft” – be that having a hypervisor that could “compete” with Hyper-V, having an application virtualisation offering that “competes” with App-V: so, calling their new acquisition XenBox will doubtless put the odd Redmond nose out of joint.

More interesting will be to see if the VDI appliance model is geared solely and only at the SMB market and if it is intended to be as a device that is marketed as an “internally hosted solution”. More importantly,  how the competition will respond and will that help drive even more competitive and innovative solutions?

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