Top 10 VDI news stories of 2012

2012 may not be a great year according to the Mayans, but desktop virtualization vendors and IT pros saw positive changes in the VDI market this year.

This year saw more growth in the VDI market as desktop virtualization collided with mobility and the cloud.

You might call 2012 the Year of Acquisitions. Dell, VMware and Citrix Systems acquired smaller companies, ratcheting up competition among the major vendors but leaving IT pros to wonder about the future of the acquired companies and their products. Several virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) startups cashed in on these acquisitions, but one, Pano Logic, didn't make it through the fire.

Desktop as a Service (DaaS) gained a stronger foothold, and desktop administrators took on the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Read about all the big stories as we recap the top VDI news of the year:

10. VMware acquires Wanova for single image management

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VMware's acquisition of Wanova in May opened the doors for integrating physical desktop management into View. Wanova's Mirage software provides single image management, as well as support for departmental and user-installed applications. At VMworld in August, VMware also introduced its Horizon Suite, which could provide mobile workers with an alternative to VDI for accessing corporate applications.

9. Microsoft RemoteFX requires Windows upgrades

Microsoft released Windows Server 2012 in September, bringing some exciting improvements to RemoteFX, including better performance over the WAN, reduced bandwidth constraints and an adaptive graphics feature. You won't get those enhancements on Windows Server 2008 R2 Session Host, but Microsoft did add support for Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 on Windows 7 SP1 virtual desktops running in the data center.

8. OnLive fought the law, and the law won

In the spring of 2012, a VDI market controversy came to a head when OnLive flouted Microsoft's licensing rules by offering a free app that provides Windows 7 applications to customers through the cloud. Microsoft made no move to relax its dedicated hardware policies, which some providers say hinders DaaS adoption. OnLive eventually changed its tune and complied.

7. Microsoft updates roaming profiles, releases App-V 5.0

Microsoft has new profile management software called User Experience Virtualization (UE-V), which improves roaming profile efficiency and supports more endpoints. UE-V applies the user experience from one device to another and allows IT to choose which applications move with the roaming profile. In other Microsoft VDI news, the company in November released App-V 5.0, its application virtualization tool that aims to reduce storage requirements and provide a more native app experience.

6. IT pros realize benefits, challenges of VDI and BYOD

As mobile devices pervaded corporate environments in 2012, some IT shops tried to manage BYOD with desktop virtualization. VDI can improve BYOD management by freeing desktop administrators from hardware administration, but it's not that easy. VMware shops using View 5 for BYOD hit on some of the challenges: It's a cultural change that workers need to get used to, and View doesn't provide solid profile management yet.

5. NVIDIA boosts media-rich apps with virtualized GPU

Running graphics-intensive apps on virtual desktops is challenging because those applications require a lot of GPU power. NVIDIA's VGX virtualized GPU, announced in May, circumvents the CPU to deliver three-dimensional and other applications with better performance.

4. Pano Logic flops, forgets to tell customers

Pano Logic closed up shop in October, but the VDI startup didn't provide a contingency plan for customers. To make things worse, its zero-client Pano Device was an end-to-end tool that's very different from others on the VDI market, making it difficult to replace.

3. Dell and HP fight for hardware dominance

When Dell acquired Wyse in April, the battle to deliver the best thin client heated up. Dell added new desktop provisioning and management software to its DVS Enterprise product for VDI. Meanwhile, competitor Hewlett-Packard at Citrix Synergy 2012 announced a zero client that supports USB and Ethernet connections, plus a low-power zero client that uses Power over Ethernet.

2. Citrix acquires Virtual Computer

Just weeks before VMware's Wanova acquisition in May, Citrix acquired Virtual Computer to take advantage of the startup's NxTop client hypervisor, which will integrate with XenClient Enterprise edition. It was a big year for client virtualization: Microsoft released Client Hyper-V as well.

1. Dell buys Quest

Dell brought the summer of 2012 to an end with its acquisition of Quest Software. Experts said Dell wouldn't champion Quest's vWorkspace but instead default to its partners VMware and Citrix for VDI. The vendor could continue to support vWorkspace, but will probably stick to using Quest application management tools as a layer in a converged infrastructure offering.

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