VMware to launch app publishing feature, level a blow against XenApp

VMware's EUC portfolio lacks application publishing, but not for long. The company will deliver a platform to take on Citrix's XenApp.

VMware will finally provide a way to remotely deliver published applications, giving the virtualization company...

an answer to Citrix XenApp, sources said.

With the major app publishing release, coming next week, VMware, Inc. aims to quiet the criticism around its end-user computing (EUC) strategy.

"VMware is going to deliver a stronger blow than I think Citrix is prepared to take," said a virtualization industry expert who requested anonymity.

The company has been teasing major Horizon Suite news and plans to announce it during an online event April 9. Sources briefed on what's to come provided little additional detail, but they all said this release is going to be a major boost for VMware.

"VMware will have arguably the most attractive [EUC] offering moving forward," said one IT administrator who has seen the roadmap, and requested anonymity. "It really does fill the gaps in the product today and opens VMware up to many more use cases."

VMware's version of XenApp

Citrix's XenApp is a very mature, widely-used platform that extends Microsoft's remote desktop session host (RDSH) desktops and applications to users through Citrix's HDX protocol. VMware Blast, an HTML5-based protocol, will play a major role in its upcoming application remoting offering, sources said. VMware's PCoIP already supports RDSH.

An application remoting feature means VMware customers will be able to deliver Windows applications and data from a centrally managed console, and end users can access the applications from any device.

The lack of a Windows application publishing feature has been a huge downfall for VMware, and it has kept Citrix steps ahead. Industry experts have expected an RDSH-type product from VMware for years.

"From where [VMware] sits, it’s really just Citrix as the archrival, and they know that," said another industry watcher familiar with the roadmap, who requested anonymity. "They're going to try and move a little faster than them and have products that are a little slicker. … [VMware has] definitely been thinking about [the new remote application product] for a long time as well."

The 2013 acquisition of Desktone, which led to last month's release of Horizon DaaS, was a big part of VMware's ability to pull this off, this source said. Others credited the recent shakeup in VMware's EUC group, which included the hiring of former Citrix executives, for VMware's move in the right direction.

"Given the new EUC leadership and recent increases in engineering staff dedicated to EUC, we should continue to expect more innovation from VMware here," said Simon Bramfitt, an independent EUC analyst.

What VMware app publishing means for the market

VMware has already positioned Horizon as a virtual workplace portal. It is a front door to XenApp hosted applications as well as apps, desktops and data delivered via VMware's EUC products.

"That's by no means all the battle, but if you own the access layer, you are well-positioned to own the underlying presentation and hosting layers," Bramfitt said.

In the short term, a VMware Horizon hosted application service would likely benefit only VMware customers.

"However, the breakout moment will come when enterprise XenApp customers need to upgrade to a new XenApp release," Bramfitt said. "If VMware puts resources into developing tools to smooth the migration path from XenApp to Horizon, it could see significant gains."

VMware's long-term goal is to give IT admins one interface from which to manage and deliver View desktops and all applications, using a single platform and protocol -- a goal that will take time to achieve, sources said.

VMware did not respond to a request for comment.

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