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Does the VMware/Desktone Deal Make Sense?

My first gut reaction to the VMware/Desktone acquisition last week was to write some elaborate article, but then I decided to follow some advice from Sir Winston Churchill and "smoke a cigar" before I wrote down my thoughts. I took the time last week to read what other analysts and bloggers said about the acquisition. Oddly enough, I arrived at the same conclusion as I did when I first read the announcement. So, I guess another saying is true--Your first reaction is usually the right one.

Here's why I struggle with this news: What does Desktone have to offer VMware? If you remember VMworld 2013, VMware said it was getting into the DaaS space. We were left wondering how they would pull that off, especially from a Microsoft desktop licensing standpoint. If buying Desktone is VMware's idea of an answer, I am sadly disappointed.

One analyst suggested that maybe VMware was acquiring Desktone because it's broker was better than the one that comes with Horizon View and that Desktone's can scale better. That got me thinking for about five seconds, after which I dismissed his suggestion. VMware Horizon View most likely has larger implementations than Desktone as far as VDI is concerned. Couple that with the fact that we have not heard of any sizable deployments of Desktone of any kind. To assume that the Desktone broker is more scalable just because it is dubbed a DaaS company is ridiculous as a reason for VMware to acquire them. Until that broker proves with actual implementations that it can scale better, such reasoning is null.

Then I thought, maybe it is the intellectual property that Desktone has, as maybe it knows how to properly design an infrastructure suitable for DaaS. I started to read again about the technologies that company is using and how it is able to scale them. I arrived at the same conclusion: Desktone is doing VDI the same way that enterprises are doing VDI and were coming up against the same bottlenecks we see in the enterprise. Desktone is using monolithic storage from the top brands and were having performance issues. The solution? Add more hardware. At the very least, if Desktone is using some form of proprietary grid technology, some smart converged compute and storage, say from the likes of Hyve, then maybe I would consider that as a reason. But no, so scratch that as well.

So, the question still is, why? The answer has eluded me and will for quite a while. Was Desktone experiencing financial trouble and VMware saw an opportunity? Possibly. Is Desktone a marketing pickup? Maybe. But that would be the most expensive commercial in VMware's history. Is it a human capital acquisition? Did VMware purchase smart people to accelerate its go-to-market with DaaS? This last question is the I am leaning towards. The only other alternative is that Desktone has a great management console and some fancy automation and multi-tenant solutions, but I cannot believe those are good enough reasons for the acquisition.

For now, it seems the acquistion has more benefit for Desktone than for VMware. I'd love to hear VMware clearly articulate why this acquisition happened. Those of you reading this have probably already formulated an opinion that I don't like Desktone, but it's not true. Desktone is visionary in terms of latching on to a concept that will most likely be the norm for VDI in the future and I think they have executed decently on that vision as a startup. But when you see the most influential and advanced cloud company in the world acquire it, it forces us to ask how it such a buy can be beneficial to VMware in the short and long term?. Yes, I do know that Desktone has some RDS connectivity and brokering capabilities and it can support Citrix HDX and so on, but all that is still not enough. VMware now has to integrate Desktone with Horizon View and vCloud in order to extend to its customers that single pane of glass and seamless user experience. I cannot foresee any situation where the Desktone console replaces the View console.

Since everyone congratulated VMware on the acquisition but no one gave any good analysis or reason as to why they are congratulating VMware, I thought I would at least put this out there and hope to get an explanation or a vision from VMware. I truly hope I am wrong and there is a magic feature that touches eight or or a dozen different technologies that could enhance VMware's DaaS go-to-market strategy.

If you have thoughts on this subject I would love to hear them in the comments section or you can e-mail me directly. I am genuinely interested in some creative explanations.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 10/21/2013 at 3:46 PM


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