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Madden Wrong on VMware Trickery

While I understand starting this blog with a controversial title will draw more traffic to and that is essential to his business, what he's saying there is harmful for his brand and his credibility. Brian Madden accuses VMware of tricking customers into using Horizon View instead of RDSH.

The basis of his accusation is wrong, VMware has a VDI product and it is the company's job to market its product and convince customers to adopt it. It's not in business to tell customers to use the competition's product -- that is a solution provider's responsibility. There are many solutions out there in many different situations that can get the job done, but there are companies who turn to VDI. And so Brian's anti-VDI rhetoric is getting really old and the industry has gone past it, as is evident by Brian's own admission of how many Nimble customers use VDI. Yes, Brian, we have been telling you for years that VDI adoption is real, I am glad you got to experience that first hand.

That's not the only thing that ticked me off. By accusing VMware or implying or hinting that VMware is tricking customers, Brian is also implying that customers are incapable of doing their homework. Well, customers are a lot savvier than that.

Brian keeps referencing RDSH and while, like Brian, I am an old-time Terminal Server and MetaFrame technologist, I also have to get with the times and understand that the market is changing. Interestingly, the investments that software and hardware companies are making is not in RDSH, it's in VDI.

Now let's get down to some technical questions that I have for Brian:

  1. How would you deploy RDSH in any real environment given that support for non-Windows devices is limited? I am sure you are aware of the Consumerization of IT. Heck, I have heard you speak about it endless times, so how would you recommend RDSH in a world where mobile devices and non-Windows laptops are becoming very popular, if not dominant? This point alone is enough to negate the entire article.
  2. Let's assume for one minute that we got past the client device issue. Does Brian realize the challenges associated with running a pure RDSH environment, such as printing? And printing to non-Windows devices in particular? What about auditing? In a world consumed by security concerns, that one is pretty important. What about bandwidth management? Multimedia? The list is long and pretty distinguished.
  3. Assuming we agree that RDSH alone will not fit the bill, now you are talking XenApp. While I am a huge supporter and believer in XenApp and I still find myself recommending it where it makes sense, when you add the cost of XenApp to an RDSH rollout, the delta between that and a VDI environment is not that huge anymore.
  4. Brian keeps hammering that RDSH supports a higher density of users and he keeps throwing around the 175 users number. In my experience, in real-world environments customers' appetite for having that many users on a single server is not that common and there are often far fewer users on XenApp servers for good reason, especially for line-of-business applications.
  5. Regarding isolation, the problem is not isolating applications so much as it is isolating users so that we can assign them different resources. With RDSH all users are sharing the same Kernel, so while you can assume they will be given the same amount of resources, with VDI I can isolate users to exactly the resources I want to assign them without worrying about kernel conflicts (those instances are rare, but kernel conflicts can still occur).
  6. There are still many applications that do not work well on RDSH, mostly legacy apps that we still need to use and that require a desktop operating system instead of a server operating system.

The bottom line is the article has very little to do with VMware and ended up being an RDSH versus VDI conversation. So, why is Brian is blaming VMware for not selling customers a product it doesn't make? Isn't it VMware's mission to market and sell its own product? Well, in that regard, VMware is doing a fine job. Is VMware Horizon View perfect? Absolutely not -- it is a limited VDI solution and I have written many times that VMware needs to make acquisitions to boost the Horizon View offering, especially to add RDSH support by acquiring a company like Ericom.

Customers today are looking at a way to handle PC lifecycle management and VDI offers a window of opportunity for solving this issue. I understand perfectly that we cannot fully achieve that goal today, but given there is an entire industry investing in desktop virtualization, it is a matter of time before we will have a good PC lifecycle management solution.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 08/19/2013 at 11:33 AM


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