Take Five With Tom Fenton

Mixed Bag: Thin Clients, VDI, Management, Etc.

Here are five random items that are worthy of comment.

From time to time, I like to sit back and consider random items I've crossed paths with in the recent past. Today, I have VMware, virtualization management, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), thin-client computing and the demise of news rattling around my brain chamber.

VMware. I give this company grief because -- well, because it's VMware. It's the Big Kahuna, the Major Domo, the Maximum Leader -- and that makes it fair game for me and a lot of other observers. In the wake of our recent Readers Choice Awards, however, I really have to take my hat off to VMware, because it absolutely blew the competition away in almost every case. By that I mean the company finished first in 10 of 15 categories and second in another. It won every category from Server Virtualization to Best Virtualization Training Vendor, and it beat Citrix in Application Virtualization along the way. Only Veeam beat VMware in one of its strong areas, which was Virtual Business Continuity. The more you learn about this company, and the more you see how it stacks up against the competition, the more you have to respect it. Talk about a well-oiled machine.

Virtualization management. This segment of the industry is growing like crazy, and the competition is intense as one new company after another enters the market hunting for a sweet spot where they can hang their hat and make a buck. If you can't monitor everything that's happening in virtual environments and correct for problems before they occur -- from a single, centralized console, of course -- forget about it. VMware, Citrix and Microsoft are major players, but many smaller vendors are serving up strong competition. What chance does virtual machine (VM) stall have in this high-energy environment?

The high cost and complexity of VDI. VDI has made a big splash in the past year as VMware and Citrix keep leapfrogging each other with new updates to their View and XenDesktop products, respectively. But what's been left out of the conversation is the high cost of doing business in this complex arena. Enter companies like Kaviza -- which in its recently announced version 4.0 builds on earlier versions that slashed storage costs and simplified installation -- and now DataCore, which claims it has a configuration for virtual desktops that reduces the total hardware cost to roughly $32.41 per desktop, including storage infrastructure.

How thin is zero, and does it really matter? If you're PanoLogic, it does really matter, because your claim to offer a true zero-client device gives you a competitive edge over the big boys, aka Hewlett-Packard and Wyse. If you're Wyse, you introduce the Wyse Z90 thin client, a high-performance thin client based on Windows Embedded Standard 7. For you, zero is nice, but not necessary. If you're the mighty HP, you don't care who's thin and who's zero, because your customers don't care, and heck, you don't even bother dedicating an entire press release to a thin-client announcement. Now that's slumming it!

What's news, and what's not? At a time when content is king -- and preferably free -- the borderline between news, pseudo-news and everything else out there is obliterated. Vendors, of course, are prime offenders in this scenario, following up their "news" releases with supporting blogs that are meant more for lionizing their products than they are for helping explain them. I like to think I recently captured the essence of this situation in my blog, which described the blog of Citrix CIO Simon Crosby. Said I: "You know if Simon says this announcement is 'perhaps predictably short on detail,' as he did, you're only getting the French pastry, as opposed to the boeuf bourguignon."

What's on your mind these days? Tell me at [email protected].

About the Author

Bruce Hoard is the new editor of Virtualization Review. Prior to taking this post, he was founding editor of Network World and spent 20 years as a freelance writer and editor in the IT industry.


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