This week we saw the announcement of two very similar acquisitions. Quest Software announced on October 24 that they were acquiring ChangeBASE and on October 26 Citrix Systems announced they were acquiring AppDNA. Both solutions provide application compatibility testing for the Windows platform.
Implementations of Windows 7 on both physical and virtual platforms have been hindered primarily due to concerns about or known issues of application compatibility. For 10 years, Windows XP was the platform for thousands of applications. Transitioning to a new platform is nothing less than herculean when the application set is nearly as old as the platform it’s running on. Even early implementations of Windows Terminal Server (i.e., Citrix MetaFrame) had application compatibility challenges, requiring scripts to make applications behave correctly in the multi-user Windows environment.
Like a new college student, fresh from the flush of new found freedom to expand their horizons, Citrix appear to have had a case of the munchies. First Citrix’s portfolio was extended with the acquitisition of Kaviza. More recently, the purchase of RingCube. The desktop virtualisation techhnologies acquired will help strengthen Citrix’s virtualised desktop offering. VDI-in-a-box offering simplicity of deployment, providing options for the SMB and MSP spaces; and vDesk providing a layering functionality giving greater VDI scalability with an improved personalisation offering.
While there has been little innovation in the XenApp line since v6.0 to date, the proposed next release (XA 6.5, “Iron Cove”) is slated to offer improved administration and service management – but perhaps importantly include a more “Windows 7” feel for Presentation Virtualisation (RDS/TS) sessions.
Citrix recently announced the acquisition of RingCube, adding the vDesk solution to their virtual desktop delivery tool kit. This is a solution I have followed for some time now, and I am looking forward to seeing how Citrix integrates vDesk into the XenDesktop stack.
RingCube vDesk delivers a complete desktop environment without having to virtualize the underlying operating system. It does this by leveraging the host’s operating system files, and layering on a policy-based workspace environment that can have different applications, domain affiliation, and security and network settings than those of the host machine. When looking at how vDesk might be used, I quickly have two thoughts.
VMware’s next version of View will, should, possibly, hopefully include the Windows profile optimisation solution that VMware bought from RTO Software. The intention was to ensure VMware would, at last, have an in-house solution to make accessing non-persistent desktops less cumbersome, getting View on par with other VDI vendors who have offered some form of integrated profile management solution for some time. But since VMware’s purchase – Citrix has acquired RingCube.
Delivering a virtual desktop OS to users is a mere bagatelle. Providing a locked-down, standardized workspace to task-based users can be straight forward, but not every company just has users focused on a single set of tasks. If a desktop virtualisation project is to be successful, delivering services to autonomous users is key: those users are more likely to be the organisation’s greater revenue generators, they are more likely to be more demanding in terms of resources, they are more likely to want to access their applications and data from a range devices. They are also more likely to kick up a fuss when a solution doesn’t work. That said, regardless of the type of user it is more likely they don’t care what OS is, rather can they use the applications they need and can they get access to their data.
As we’ve mentioned before if Presentation Virtualization/Terminal services are excluded, VDI hailed as the next generation of desktop solutions from the likes of Citrix, Quest and VMware, still hold less then 3% of the desktop market. Many CIOs have been holding back from taking the plunge from moving to a virtualised desktop model. A profile management service in View would have brought parity with other VDI solutions – but would it bring a spring in sales? Will VMware’s investment in RTO justify the money, or does the solution that they have now deliver too little, too late? Is a profile optimisation solution alone good enough?
This also leads to the question – does VDI need User Virtualization, or does User Virtualization need VDI?
Benjamin Franklin wrote ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. You may have read our article about how it is possible to cheat death in Save Lives, implement VDI. But death is a mere bagatelle in these austere times in comparison to taxes.
A good Virtual Desktop Design architect needs to ask, “what is the best solution for this environment?” To answer that question, an effective design considers – “does the solution meet the users’ needs?
If your virtual desktop design starts with sizing hardware to support the amount of current physical desktops, starts with considering what applications can be virtualised, it has likely started in the wrong place.