Teradici today pulled back the curtain on a major new initiative, pre-announcing plans to introduce a new Remote Desktop Services Host (RDSH) solution later this year. Signaling that it is no longer content to focus exclusively on its PC over IP remote display protocol, instead looking to broaden its outlook as a provider of end to end remote desktop services.
If however this is the product you have been waiting for ever since VMware launched View, I’m afraid you’re going to have to be patient. Today’s announcement signals the launch of a closed alpha program restricted to Teradici partners and certain key customers. This will be followed by a formal announcement on August 27 at VMworld San Francisco where the currently unnamed product will be demonstrated at the Teradici booth in the Expo Hall. (Assessing an unnamed product could make for tedious reading, so for the rest of this article I will refer to it as Teradici RDSH.)
Teradici expect to launch an open beta program to coincide with VMworld Barcelona in October when pricing information should also be made available; followed by a 1.0 release in December 2012. Anyone expecting a fully fledged competitor to Citrix XenApp will be disappointed however. As detailed below, Teradici RDSH 1.0 is missing one key technology that XenApp customers take for granted – Published Applications. Aside from the administrative and operational advantages of working with published applications, lack of support for published applications could result in usability challenges especially in mobile environments where small screens make user interface cram a real problem.
Teradici are not positioning the initial release as an all purpose XenApp replacement instead suggesting that it should be viewed as a complement to existing VMware View environments. In many respects this approach follows the old Citrix message to “Embrace and extend”, where Citrix’s message was looking to communicate its relationship with Microsoft, Teradici is here extending VMware’s reach on the virtual desktop. This approach is very evident when looking at Teradici’s approach to managing RDSH. Rather than developing its own connection broker and management platform it is integrating directly with the VMware View Manager connection broker, and the View Security Gateway. Similarly it is taking advantage of the existing VMware View software clients for Android, iOS, and OS X. The only major difference here is that Teradici is developing its own optimized Windows client, which will support both View and Teradici RDSH. Teradici has taken a leaf out of Citrix’s book by re-skinning the Windows Server GUI to deliver a Windows 7 desktop look and feel, offering a consistent user experience between View running Windows 7 and Teradici RDSH running Windows server 2008 R2.
As expected, Teradici RDSH supports both Windows server 2008 R2 and Windows server 2012. Similarly, support is provided for the APEX 2800 graphics offload processor which should increase overall server performance 20% – 100% depending on server workload characteristics. So far Teradici has only committed to offering APEX support for bare metal and VMware ESXi environments. A head-to-head comparison between Teradici PCoIP and Microsoft RemoteFX, would make for interesting reading, both in terms of server performance and user experience on multiple platforms.
Teradici has laid out an aggressive roadmap for filling out its feature list, with two releases scheduled for 2013. R 1.5 will add enhanced USB support and improved printing, effectively bringing Teradici RDSH up to the same level as VMware View and so fulfilling the initial promise. The real opportunity for Teradici will not arrive until later in the year when R 2.0 is released with published application support. At this point, Teradici has its first real opportunity to start mainstream XenApp market share away from Citrix.
Current VMware View customers who wish to implement a basic server hosted desktop virtualization system, what Citrix are now calling Hosted Shared (i.e. RDSH), today have little choice but to deploy multiple products, that means multiple management consoles, connection brokers, remote display protocols, endpoint configurations and clients, and remote access gateways. This obviously increases cost and complexity of the overall solution, directly eroding some of the primary benefits of desktop virtualization even before deployment. the opportunity to provide an all PCoIP solution for both VDI and RDSH-based virtual desktops immediately improves the ROI of both systems. Even though Teradici RDSH complements and extends VMware View and integrates directly with the View Connection Poker Teradici is maintaining independent control of its RDSH platform selling it exclusively through Teradici’s own channel, admittedly this overlaps very closely with that of VMware, but it does indicate how Teradici wish to set the scene. Regardless of sales and marketing decisions, the close partnership that the two companies have and the level of integration between the Teradici offering and View will be a strong incentive to organizations with hybrid PCoIP/ICA or PCoIP/RDP hosted desktop networks to choose to standardize on a combine VMware/Teradici offering.
At the same time, a substantial number of Citrix customers who do not take advantage of the more advanced features that XenApp offers may consider transferring their allegiance to Teradici. If Teradici adopt an aggressive pricing strategy, it may be able to steal Citrix XenApp customers who are dissatisfied with the relatively high cost of Citrix Subscription Advantage. At the same time, with Dell downplaying the availability of Quest Desktop Virtualization (vWorkspace) following the Quest acquisition, perhaps with a view to ensuring good relations with Citrix, Teradici may become a better long-term partner for customers looking for an alternative to XenApp. I spoke off the record with the desktop virtualization practice manager for a major consulting services provider who suggested that Teradici is well-placed to take advantage of many enterprises’ allegiance to VMware in the data center who consider VDI a niche technology, but recognize the benefits of desktop virtualization and acknowledge the advantage of a single vendor ecosystem solution to all of their virtualization needs covering the cloud, data center and endpoint.
In the long-term as Teradici works to build out its RDSH feature set, it may come increasingly into competition with XenApp as a product in its own right rather than simply complimenting VMware View implementations. How it will fare here remains to be seen, much depends on Teradici’s willingness to invest in the solution.
Given the close partnership between VMware and Teradici, the availability of a PCoIP-based RDSH platform should help VMware View sales also. Organizations that may have looked to Citrix as a preferred provider of a comprehensive suite of desktop virtualization solutions i.e., XenApp, XenDesktop, XenClient may view a combination of Teradici RDSH, View, and Mirage from VMware’s Wanova acquisition as a viable alternative. Even so, considering the limited feature set in the 1.0 release, most significantly lack of support for published applications, it may take some time for Teradici to establish a significant momentum. So far Teradici have only offered that Teradici RDSH will be “Attractively priced”. If Teradici were to take an aggressive position and offer R 1.0 for less than $50 per concurrent connection, with a commitment to maintain an appropriately low software maintenance package early adopters, it may be able to get significant early buy-in as it works to add more features in 2013.
Do not expect Citrix to respond directly to Teradici RDSH by lowering prices. It is far more likely that Citrix will take a wait-and-see approach rather taking action to preempt Teradici. Regardless of how Citrix chooses to respond, or indeed whether or not Dell acts to reemphasize Quest Desktop Virtualization, this is a significant milestone that will to go along way to redress the current imbalance between RDSH and VDI, reminding people that no matter how significant the progress on implementing VDI has been, there are many circumstances where RDSH can deliver a comparable experience for a fraction of the cost.