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VMware's Wanova acquisition extends VDI to physical desktops

Bridget Botelho

Two major limitations of VMware View have been the inability to manage physical desktops and user installed applications. VMware filled those gaps this week with the acquisition of Wanova.

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Physical desktops aren't going anywhere.

Gunnar Berger,
Gartner Inc. analyst

Wanova Inc.'s Mirage software is considered a low-cost alternative to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but many customers use it along with VMware View. Mirage gives View shops centralized image management for both virtual and physical desktops and a way to support persistent user installed apps and departmental applications.

With Wanova, VMware Inc. can expand VDI beyond virtual desktops to physical PCs and laptops. It will also improve View performance, which should make it suitable for more types of end users, said Gunnar Berger, an analyst with Gartner, Inc.

View is more about server-hosted virtual desktops, and although that market is growing, client hosted virtual desktops hasn't really taken off, Berger said. That's where Wanova comes in. 

"Physical desktops aren't going anywhere; they will be around for a while," he said. "So, anything these companies can do to expand their market is good."

Indeed, VMware can now offer conservative IT shops a way to ease into VDI without ditching their familiar PCs, said Eugene Alfaro,  CTO and VP of IT Engineering Services for Cornerstone Technologies LLC in San Jose, Calif.

"Federal government is slower than molasses. They will want to hold on to old desktops and laptops," Alfaro said. "Mirage gives VMware a tool to sell to the non-virtual holdouts then just shift those systems from non-VDI licenses to VDI licenses as time passes."

VMware plans to roll Mirage into a future version of View, either the Premier or Enterprise editions. The company would not disclose any other details.

What about Wanova customers?

Wanova and VMware had a pre-existing partnership and shared customers who use Mirage to supplement View.

One such customer, Ken Fanta, IT director for the department of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin, tried View 4 with PCoIP early last year but found that it didn't perform well enough. That experience led him to Wanova Mirage.

VMware has added a number of features and improved performance since then, but Fanta still uses Mirage to virtualize desktops and View as a backup.

More on VDI acquisitions:

Acquisition explosion: VDI vendors beef up virtual desktop management

Citrix acquires XenClient competitor Virtual Computer

Citrix integrates NxTop and XenClient, introduces Project Avalon

Dell acquires Wyse for thin client desktop virtualization

Dell's Wyse acquisition transforms VDI thin client market

Is Dell eyeing Quest Software?

On learning of the Wanova acquisition, Fanta was surprised and disappointed, because Mirage is a unique product that works very well on its own. But with VMware's resources, he hopes the Wanova offering will evolve.

"The Wanova product is mature enough where it is doing exactly what it is supposed to without any issue," Fanta said. "So, even if it does not evolve, we are good until we need to roll out the next OS from Microsoft."

With Mirage, VMware will be able to deliver a "seamless presentation to the end user, no matter the hardware," he added.

VMware ups the ante

From a competitive standpoint, the acquisition will give VMware features that Citrix Systems Inc. already offers its XenDesktop customers.

Citrix acquired RingCube last year to gain the dedicated virtual desktops feature, now called personal vDisk. It became available as part of XenDesktop 5.5 in 2011. With its layering capabilities, IT can deliver user profile settings and end users can install apps to their virtual desktops.

More recently, Citrix acquired Virtual Computer NxTop to gain client-side virtualization features including backup and recovery, security, synchronization and more.

The Wanova acquisition is VMware's answer to both of those deals; it gives the company layering capabilities and a client-side virtualization play that's an improvement over View Local Mode, Berger said.

"Wanova fills in View with its layering and a synching engine," he said. "VMware's Local Mode is not as efficient as customers would like, so this is also a response to that."

Other small vendors offer software similar to Wanova Mirage, including Unidesk Corp. and Liquidware Labs, both of which also partner with VMware.

Though VMware will soon deliver Mirage software within View, the company said it will continue to partner with third-party vendors, and customers can choose the offering they prefer to use.

Wanova is privately held and backed by venture capital firms Greylock Partners, Carmel Ventures and Opus Capital. VMware would not disclose financials for the deal, which will close sometime in Q2.

Until then, it's business as usual for both companies, VMware said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter.


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