The Hoard Facts

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Outtakes and Insights from Chris Wolf, Part 1

In the course of interviewing Gartner guru Chris Wolf about Citrix for 34 minutes and 52 seconds, I gathered a LOT of really good information--so much, unfortunately, that I was not able to include much of it in my April-May VR print magazine cover story. But all is not lost, because both of my blogs this week are dedicated to presenting an array of good Wolfian quotes that would otherwise languish on my hard drive.

VR: How much is VMware been moderating its product pricing?
Wolf: I think VMware's pretty careful with what they have done so far. Last year they made a very smart move on pricing when they offered their SMB SKUs, which gives you three server instances and the management server for--I believe--under $3,000, or somewhere in that neighborhood. That was very well received by customers in the SMB market. The free ESXi hypervisor has done pretty well too. However, they obviously don't give you as much as Citrix or Hyper-V with Microsoft, but they're trying to stay on that line between commoditizing too much of what they sell to customers versus staying competitive in the market.

The fact is, with Citrix and Microsoft pushing so hard, even VMware's own customers are getting better deals in terms of pricing because that's just the competitive nature of the market.

VR: How hot is personalization?
That's a feature that's very important to customers, especially when they look to either support user personal settings in the virtual desktop or to support user-installed applications. There's a lot of different technologies that can be used to address that. Citrix today, and VMware, eventually, will have some personalization offerings, but a lot of folks also look at third-party vendors like RES Software, AppSense and others such as RingCube and Unidesk.

The concern I've seen from customers, though, is that they're worried about market consolidation in the personalization space in 2011, so they're trying to hold off on placing the product bet because they don't want to buy a product and have that vendor get acquired by another vendor that they have no relationship with, and no plans to move forward with.

VR: Everyone's complaining about the cost and complexity of storage. What do you see going on to improve that situation?
There's a lot of work being done to do as much with storage locally as possible with virtual desktops, just because of performance reasons. That could include boosting a virtual desktop from a common image that's stored on a local disk on the server.

Now the issue you have is that a lot of hardware vendors are coming in with blade offerings for virtual desktops, and those offerings don't give you the option to run local storage. You could be paying a penalty there in terms of needing, say, additional Fibre Channel SAN ports to meet the storage requirements of the virtual desktop.

VR: Do you see any significant changes coming on the security landscape?
Traditional security models that use host-based scanning are pretty resource-intensive, and will ultimately degrade the consolidation densities you get in virtual desktop environments. So, the solution there is coming in terms of what vendors such as McAfee, Trend, and Symantec have been doing over the past 12 months, but customers see those solutions as more of 1.0 products, and they're waiting out a little bit further in terms of product maturity before making that type of technology bet.

VR: What is VMware doing to enhance View's connectivity with WAN acceleration devices?
Well, it's a tough challenge, right? You can't solve those challenges instantly. I do remember our conversation, I remember the VMware response to that, and I did not agree with it. Citrix has been building the ICA protocol over more than a decade and it's not something that VMware and Teradici can build overnight. However, VMware and Teradici have come a long way in a relatively short period of time, and I expect them to narrow the feature gap in 2011. I also think they have probably exceeded the expectations of Citrix, but the latency handling--being very fair in terms of bandwidth consumption, being able to support WAN acceleration devices--these are all really important things that VMware customers care about.

I think the other thing that VMware has learned through the process is, when they were initially rolling out PC-over-IP, it was tuned to be really optimal in LAN environments, and when they were getting piloted, those same tuning characteristics were being used to do evaluations over the WAN, and as a result, the protocol would not perform as well. So one thing they've learned through the process here is to be more open with customers about how to get PC-over-IP properly tuned for the WAN, and to do that as part of the pilot process.

Next time: Chris Wolf on VMware playing it cagey with vCenter and vCloud Director; the future of XenClient; and kudos for Parallels.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 05/03/2011 at 12:48 PM


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