Breaking down the latest VMware desktop strategy buzz

After a short break, VMware has gotten the buzz going again around its desktop delivery products.

Now that VMware has finally bought Desktone and enhanced Horizon View 5.3, what does this mean for its long-term desktop strategy?

The Desktone acquisition was written in the stars after VMware announced its "partnership" with Desktone at VMworld U.S. For the short term, the effects are simple enough to see -- and they don't include View. This offering will now compete with other Desktop as a Service (DaaS) providers, almost all of whom are VMware partners, which means there's enough drama there all by itself.

It's an exciting time to be following VMware.

When those of us in the desktop world learned of the original partnership, we understood that there was no integration between the VMware-Desktone DaaS offering and View. No cloud bursting, no automation … nothing but common branding (a.k.a. marketing). It made sense because the platforms are very different from one another and, at the time, were from separate companies. Now, you can put that rationale to bed. Desktone and VMware are one and the same, so let's envision how the two might someday fit together.

How Desktone could fit into VMware

For starters, Desktone was built to support not just one company but many companies. The broker itself is more advanced, supporting multiple platforms, guest operating systems and protocols, which mostly hasn't been the case with VMware Horizon View until recently. I'm guessing that Citrix HDX via Desktone will probably disappear for new customers, but who knows. If you're going to be a DaaS provider, it might be best to hold on to a sizable portion of prospective clients.

One of the knocks against View has been its scalability, especially with regard to how many desktops the broker can support. Desktone doesn't use a traditional broker from VMware or Citrix, despite using their protocols. Instead, it built its own desktop broker from the ground up that's intended for huge environments with many users and different desktop pools. Imagine scaling that back to be more appropriate for singular companies while still giving them an ultra-efficient back end for managing and connecting end users to desktops. Pretty cool, right?

Exciting news for VMware desktop virtualization

VMware also made a lot of announcements at VMworld Europe that are generating buzz. However, I've come away from the past five VMworlds thinking, "Man, this company really has it together" only to be disappointed the following year by products that weren't released or had changed past the point of recognition. At VMworld U.S., the company scaled back the pizzazz, but just over a month later, it's making real, legitimate waves around VMware desktop virtualization again.

More on VMware Horizon View

View folded into Horizon Suite

Horizon Workspace gets an update

View shops hesitate to buy into Horizon Suite

VMware Horizon Mirage, which used to be a crippling resource hog when installed in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and only supported on physical desktops, is now supported in persistent VDI environments. (Nonpersistent is expected in the first half of 2014.) Plus, the vDGA capabilities in View 5.3 that incorporate many GPUs in addition to NVIDIA GRID technology are fantastic. VMware has even been talking about the virtues of persistent desktops rather than sticking to the "nonpersistent is the only way to go" rhetoric of the past.

VMware also announced a feature of Horizon View 5.3 that basically gives users the ability to directly connect to desktops via PC over IP without having to go through a broker. The uses for this are intriguing, such as accessing physical desktops via Citrix's RemotePC or building your own connection broker. It could even be the way that Desktone integrates into the Horizon stack, since they have already built their own broker and now simply have to establish the direct connection.

View 5.3 even supports Windows Server OSes in VDI environments now, which might as well not have existed in VMware's eyes before 2013. That means that View customers can subvert (well, work around) VDA licensing by deploying single instances of Windows Server to their end users. That helps avoid the craziness surrounding VDA licensing and will only further the #FixVDA movement.

It's an exciting time to be following VMware. Citrix is busy with XenDesktop 7 and Project Avalon, but VMware is catching a tailwind by being the only company with a fall event. We'll have to wait and see how all the VMware desktop technology, including Desktone, comes together, but 2014 is shaping up to be a very interesting year in the VDI market.

This was first published in October 2013

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