v.Next of Citrix VDI-in-a-Box: HCI?

Earlier this year, Citrix announced plans to discontinue its VDI-in-a-Box product. VDI-in-a-Box was targeted toward the small and medium business (SMB) market as a simple, all-in-one solution focused exclusively on virtual desktops. This discontinuation has left a gaping hole in the Citrix product stack. Numerous vendors sense blood in the waters and are attacking this market with full strength.

As some may recall, Citrix purchased Kaviza in mid-2011 to address the small end of the VDI market. It renamed Kaviza’s product “VDI-in-a-Box.”

In this same timeframe, Citrix released XenDesktop 5.5. XenDesktop had been maturing as a VDI offering, but it was clear that its numerous components made it too complex for small enterprises. Small businesses just didn’t have a way to implement and support the storage, provisioning, hardware, and other components associated with the robust infrastructure XenDesktop required.

Fast forward to 2013, and there were two releases: 5.3 and 5.4. The following year, however, was remarkably silent for VDI-in-a-Box. In its January 2015 earnings announcement, Citrix officially stated that it was discontinuing VDI-in-a-Box but gave no indication of its go-forward plans for supporting VDI within the small-end market.

Citrix Workspace Cloud is positioned as the cloud solution that makes moving to a Citrix solution incredibly easy and fast, without the outlay of capital expenditures. Sounds great, right? This solution certainly appeals to those involved with less complex environments or the small-end market.

However, what about those in the SMB market who want to move to VDI but can’t or don’t want to embrace the cloud? Some highly regulated industries must tightly control their customer data and other resources and are subject to restrictions that prohibit adoption of a cloud platform based on a generic infrastructure. For some, the concept of the cloud just isn’t on the horizon because they don’t trust what they can’t see and touch.

The SMB VDI on-premises market can be addressed with hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). For the most part, HCI provides a solution for organizations with fewer than 100 users. With a small footprint and a self-contained software and hardware solution for VDI, this no doubt will be appealing for small businesses. Not only does this technology enable fast deployment, but the numerous and intricate components associated with traditional VDI deployments are enveloped into an all-in-one solution.

HCI solutions make sense for the less complex, non-cloud SMB market. These small organizations don’t have the time, money, or resources to address IT infrastructure, but have needs based on untethered users and lack of control over end user devices.

Basic HCI solutions may not fully address complex requirements, but as this market matures, higher-end HCI offerings will mature and meet those needs. For example, the needs of an engineer who requires a CAD application with extensive resource requirements or those of a healthcare provider who uses complex peripherals go beyond the current capabilities of HCI solutions.

How will Citrix enter the hyperconverged infrastructure market and address those VDI-in-a-Box customers? Maybe there will be an announcement at Synergy…

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