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Dell gives VDI partners center stage, downplays Quest vWorkspace

Bridget Botelho

Dell could position itself as a one-stop shop for VDI customers with its recent acquisitions of Wyse Technology and Quest Software, but sources said the company will de-emphasize Quest vWorkspace and default to partners Citrix and VMware for desktop virtualization.

Quest Software Inc.’s customers hoped Dell would champion vWorkspace, and the company’s partners were initially

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optimistic about new VDI opportunities under Dell. After all, Dell has said it wants to be one throat to choke for VDI.

But Dell partners with VMware Inc. and Citrix Systems Inc., and it announced new offerings this week that integrate with both companies’ VDI software. If Dell were to pump out Quest vWorkspace-based VDI stacks that under-price its partners’ products, it would cause competitive friction that would damage those relationships, industry experts said.

What will become of Quest vWorkspace?

While it is too early to tell exactly what Dell plans to do with Quest vWorkspace, sources close to the company say the writing is on the wall, and customers are concerned.

Dan Bolton, a systems architect for Kingston University in the U.K., recently met with Quest’s User Workspace management team to discuss the future and though Quest has not yet had any direction from Dell, the general feeling is that Dell has no plans to compete with Citrix.

“The ‘feeling’ has also been firmed up by a friend of mine within Dell,” Bolton said.

Now, the University’s IT team is eyeing the exit.

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“They will probably just let [vWorkspace] carry on until it’s financially unsustainable,” Bolton said. “We have plans to arrange a [proof of concept] of the latest XenDesktop/[Xen]App towards the end of the year, just in case.”

Citrix said it was assured that Dell did not buy Quest for its desktop virtualization product.

“What Dell has told us so far is the focus with the Quest acquisition is not for desktop virtualization; it is for the other capabilities they gained from Quest,” said Krishna Subramanian, vice president of marketing and business development for Citrix’s VDI-in-a-Box offering.

Another Dell partner that sells VDI software also got word from Dell that it did not buy Quest for desktop virtualization. He added that vWorkspace customers are justified to be nervous.

One analyst who predicted that Dell would downplay vWorkspace to preserve its partnerships said it is a disappointment, considering the emphasis that Dell placed on the Quest acquisition and Dell's desktop virtualization push.  

“I would have expected more from Dell here,” said Simon Bramfitt, an analyst with Entelechy Associates LLC, a desktop and mobile application consultancy based in Concord, Calif.

That’s not to say Dell will discontinue vWorkspace development or support. A source within Quest Software said that he expects Dell to continue to support vWorkspace, particularly because Dell can use it to put together an end-to-end story.

“We are still trying to gauge things in their entirety and of course, Dell might not be showing all of their cards at this point,” the source said. “Mid-September is when things should be finalized and the deal done.”

Dell declined to comment on any plans for Quest Software.

Dell delivers new VMware, Citrix VDI stacks             

In the meantime, Dell has reaffirmed its commitment to VMware and Citrix VDI.

It has updated its Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) Simplified Appliance this week with a new version of Citrix’s VDI-in-a-Box (5.1), which is now available.

The DVS appliance delivers virtual desktops on Dell PowerEdge R720 servers for under $500 per desktop, including three years of Dell ProSupport. As part of the promotion for education and government customers, certain Dell Wyse thin clients will be included in that stack.

Dell also announced this week new Wyse P class zero clients with PCoIP for VMware View, along with three new desktop virtualization reference architectures for View. These include the vStart for VDI Reference Architecture for VMware View and the VMware AlwaysOn Point of Care Reference Architecture that includes monitoring, secure access, single sign-on and data replication across sites.

There's also the new Dell DVS Enterprise VMware Mobile Secure Desktop Reference Architecture, which offers persistent virtual desktop sessions across mobile devices.


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