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Citrix Chips Away at Another Desktop Virtualization Layer

Citrix takes another full swing at VMware with the acquisition of RingCube, just a few months after the acquisition of Kaviza. Citrix is sending a strong message that when it comes to desktop virtualization, they are not settling for 1st place, they want to make sure that the closets competitor to XenDesktop is in 5th place.

Now, I had predicted that VMware would make a move and acquire Unidesk to significantly reinforce VMware View, but that has not happened nor has there been any indication VMware is even interested in a desktop virtualization acquisition. Nonetheless, I still think Unidesk is a desperately needed addition to View.

Now that being said, let's examine the timing of the announcement. Citrix finally learned how to make announcements that can make an impact. Last time, it announced the acquisition of Kaviza. VMware followed with the announcement of vSphere 5 and that completely overshadowed everyone else's big news. This time, Citrix timed it right by announcing RingCube weeks before VMworld, but also weeks before VMware announces View 5 which will finally support a profile management solution from their acquisition of RTOSoft a few years back.

The message Citrix is sending is, while View 5 finally supports profile management, XenDesktop has had that for years but now XenDesktop takes leaps and bounds forward with the support of user-installed applications, thereby solidifying XenDesktop even more.

RingCube, for those of you that don't know, enables users to install applications to their own desktop. It combines the best of both worlds: Users still get a non-persistent desktop that is locked down with IT-supported applications and settings, but it allows the users to install their own applications into a separate virtual disk, a separate layer which is merged with the IT-delivered layer seamlessly. From a user perspective, it is completely seamless; from an IT perspective, it is very manageable. It's Win-Win.

I could not tell you how many use cases I have come across where customers are interested in desktop virtualization, understand and see its value but cannot accept the persistent or non-persistent approach, and profile management alone was never enough. User-installed application support is an imperative feature that is most critical to some customers and certainly makes the migration from physical machines to a virtual environment that much easier. At the same time, it lowers storage dependency and cost.

In summary, Citrix is making all the right moves when it comes to desktop virtualization, and it has turned XenDesktop into a beast that addresses every aspect of the technology. Check this out:

  1. XenApp for published and streamed content
  2. XenDesktop for VDI and hosted applications, Kaviza solidifies this option and simplifies it
  3. Provisioning Services for streaming to physical and virtual machines
  4. XenClient for Type-1 Client Hypervisors/off-line use cases/BYOD
  5. RingCube for user installed applications layering
  6. NetScaler for remote secure access
  7. Branch Repeater for WAN acceleration of ICA /HDX

It is hard to compete with this list, yet I still think VMware can compete with a few acquisitions and some product releases like the ever-awaited Client Virtualization platform which I intend on following on with Stephen Herrod this year--again--at VMworld.

VMware also has the Mobile Virtualization Platform, which Citrix does not have yet. That's a huge plus in VMware's corner. I will make sure that is the topic of another blog. In the meantime, I really want to hear your analysis on this. Let's hear it!

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 08/12/2011 at 12:49 PM


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