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VMware VDI shops may sidestep XenApp with PCoIP for Microsoft RDS

Bridget Botelho

VMware View shops will soon be able to bypass Citrix XenApp and use PCoIP for both VDI and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services.

The Teradici Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) PCoIP offering will provide IT with a protocol it can use across Windows Remote Desktop Services

    Requires Free Membership to View

(RDS) and VMware View desktop pools.

This is good news for View administrators as PCoIP for RDSH offers an alternative to Citrix XenApp, which many View customers use to extend remote desktop sessions and applications in their environments, industry experts said.

Ducking XenApp with PCoIP

Until now, the PCoIP desktop protocol only supported VMware Inc.'s View-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). That meant that View customers who implemented basic RDS had to deploy multiple products and along with them, multiple management consoles, connection brokers, remote display protocols, endpoint configurations and clients, and remote access gateways, said Simon Bramfitt, a virtual desktop specialist with Entelechy Associates LLC, a desktop virtualization consultancy based in Concord, Calif.

 "This obviously increases cost and complexity of the overall solution," Bramfitt said.

VMware VDI customers that don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles of XenApp can eliminate it and deliver RDS via PCoIP instead -- which they may do if PCoIP costs less, he said.

"If Teradici adopts an aggressive pricing strategy, at least for the 1.0 release, it may be able to steal Citrix XenApp customers who are dissatisfied with the relatively high cost of Citrix Subscription Advantage," Bramfitt said.

More on remote desktop delivery

How Microsoft RDS in Windows Server 2012 simplifies VDI deployment

Comparing Microsoft RemoteFX to PCoIP

The differences between Microsoft RemoteFX and Citrix HDX

Citrix Systems Inc.'s Subscription Advantage pricing differs depending on the product line, family edition and membership renewal category, but XenApp Fundamentals with embedded Terminal Services Client Access Licenses costs $40 per named user. Add to that the cost of client hardware.

Teradici declined to offer pricing or licensing details for its new RDSH offering, which won't be generally available until December. (It hits alpha status this month.) But Teradici PCoIP zero clients for View are available from 30 OEMs in various form factors starting from $299 U.S. For VMware View, PCoIP comes out of the box for no additional cost.

Regardless of price, the company expects to intercept XenApp customers and grow its business in a way that wasn't possible with VMware View support alone, said Trent Punnett, vice president of Teradici product management and system engineering.

The company claims that 70% of Wyse and Hewlett-Packard thin clients connect to either native RDS or XenApp, which has cut PCoIP and VMware View out.

Wyse Technologies, now owned by Dell, could not verify that percentage but confirmed the point.

"Desktops and applications have traditionally been the territory of Citrix and Microsoft, which means that a great number of installed clients are [Citrix]/RDS today," said Jeff McNaught, chief strategy officer for Dell Wyse.

VMware has made strides in closing the gap, he added.

PCoIP support for Windows RDSH may close that gap further, but it will take time, given the limited features in the 1.0 release -- most significantly lack of support for published applications, Bramfitt said.

What's it to Citrix?

Meanwhile, Citrix could easily respond to Teradici's new protocol by providing a way to connect to Microsoft RDS without XenApp, which could void any price advantage PCoIP offers.

For now, Citrix's spokespeople have spun the idea of this competitive threat into a compliment. Citrix considers Teradici's new support for RDS a curtsy to its FlexCast technology, which supports various methods of desktop delivery in addition to VDI.

Citrix also rests on the fact that its technology is mature and has more capabilities.

"With a 1.0 release that is not yet available, customers will want to know how Teradici will differentiate its offering from the base RDS functions," said John Fanelli, vice president of Citrix enterprise desktops and apps marketing.

Meanwhile, Teradici PCoIP also has to contend with Microsoft's RemoteFX technologies, which Microsoft has improved for Windows 8.

Though PCoIP for RDSH competes with Microsoft's protocol, it also helps Microsoft, because Teradici's technologies, which include the APEX 2800 server offload card, will provide RDS with better performance and scalability, Punnett said.


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