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VMware Workspace One undercuts Citrix Workspace Cloud

VMware announced its Workspace One suite and Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode -- which has a distinct pricing advantage over Citrix's similar Workspace Cloud product -- along with the updated Horizon 7.

VMware Workspace One puts virtual desktop, app and mobility delivery and management into a single platform, and...

its pricing could have customers turning away from Citrix Workspace Cloud.

The company this week released Workspace One, which combines AirWatch enterprise mobility management, Identity Manager and Horizon Air for workspace delivery from the cloud or on-premises. Also new is Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode, which includes the technology from Project Enzo, announced back in May 2015 -- a long wait for IT pros. Competitor Citrix's Workspace Cloud workspace deployment and management offering has been appealing to customers, but its pricing has organizations shying away, said Matt Kosht, an IT director at a utility company in Alaska and a longtime Citrix customer.

"Citrix Workspace Cloud is ... the future for Citrix, for sure, but the pricing is still way too much to get any kind of smaller customer," he said. "That's what keeps me from looking at it."

VMware looks to take advantage of that by offering its platform at a lower price.

The new Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode allows administrators to manage cloud-hosted and on-premises virtual desktops and apps from a single console. That tool starts at $16 per named user, per month and $26 per concurrent user. For companies that don't already have a virtualization license with VMware for vSphere, vCenter and Virtual SAN, the per-named-user, per-month cost kicks up to $18, and it's $30 per concurrent user.

Horizon Air is integrated in VMware Workspace One, which comes in three pricing bundles. The Standard edition is $8 per user, per month; the Advanced edition is $12 per user, per month; and its most robust bundle, the Enterprise edition, is $21 per user, per month.

Citrix Workspace Cloud (CWC) is also available in three editions. The entry-level bundle, the Virtual Desktops package, costs $20 per person, per month; the Virtual Apps and Desktops package is $35 per month; and its most advanced bundle, the Integrated Apps and Data Suite package, costs $40 per user, per month.

Citrix may be forced to lower the price of CWC packages in reaction to VMware's lower-cost Workspace One, Kosht said.

Citrix first rolled out Workspace Cloud in August 2015, just ahead of its rival's VMworld conference. The company announced during Citrix Summit in January that it will reduce the price of CWC, but it did not provide details on what the new pricing will be or when it will happen.

Citrix vs. VMware bake-off

While price may play a factor, the platform customers choose ultimately depends on the product features, vendor ecosystem, partnerships and integrations that each platform brings to the table.

A buyer will want to do essentially a bake-off between the feature function capabilities of those competing products.
Robert Youngresearch analyst, IDC

"A buyer will want to do essentially a bake-off between the feature function capabilities of those competing products," said Robert Young, research analyst at IDC. "Each has its unique value propositions as far as what they can offer."

For example, if enterprise mobility management is the most important factor for a customer, they may base their decision on the features of VMware AirWatch versus Citrix XenMobile.

"[Customers] want to see both sides of that house -- the VDI and the mobile," Young said.

There may not be many Citrix or VMware users switching vendors based on this release, and familiarity is the big reason, said David Johnson, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"The install base is always a differentiator," he said. "Citrix has a very significant install base using XenApp, which Citrix will bring as many over as they can to Workspace Cloud. VMware will do the same thing."

What's new in Workspace One and Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode?

Horizon Air Hybrid-Mode includes a feature called Just-in-Time Delivery, which allows IT admins to deliver up to 2,000 desktops in less than 20 minutes and support more than 50,000 sessions across 10 sites, according to VMware. Because Horizon Air is always connected to the cloud, admins don't have to wait for the latest version update to get new features. When new features or patches are ready, the platform automatically updates.

VMware Identity Manager allows users to access all their apps through single sign-on authentication. VMware has upgraded Identity Manager's integration with AirWatch in Workspace One to allow for more advanced conditional access policies on specific devices. Identity Manager can communicate with AirWatch to assess whether a user is restricted from certain apps or certain corporate data, and then determine the user's compliance status with those policies. 

As part of Workspace One, VMware announced a significant update to its VDI platform with Horizon 7. The biggest new feature is Blast Extreme, a display protocol technology designed to work better than PC over IP from the cloud and for mobile devices, since it requires less bandwidth, although it's built to work alongside PCoIP and the Remote Desktop Protocol.

VMware also announced App Volumes 3.0, which is also part of Workspace One, and its new AppToggle feature. That capability allows admins to build a singular virtual disk loaded with different apps, and send that same disk to different users. What's unique is that admins can apply different user permissions to different apps by individual, department and more, so the disk only installs the apps to which a user is entitled.

Acquired by VMware and integrated with AirWatch in October, the secure email and calendar app Boxer is integrated in Workspace One as well.

"[Workspace One] is powerful technology," Johnson said. "We don't yet know how well it will work in practice, but on paper, it's impressive."

Workspace One, Horizon Air with Hybrid-Mode and Horizon 7 will all be available by the end of March.

About the author:
Ramin Edmond is a news writer with TechTarget's End-User Computing Media Group. Contact him at

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