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Symantec and Quest's desktop virtualization suites hit the big leagues

You should consider Symantec and Quest Software's products for virtual desktop infrastructures along with those from Citrix, VMware and Microsoft.

With all the talk about desktop virtualization, industry experts keep focusing on the "big three" companies -- Citrix, VMware and Microsoft. While these companies are certainly the best known, I've recently been talking about the "big five" companies, adding Symantec and Quest Software to the list. Here's a quick overview of their offerings, which I encourage you to consider.

Symantec Desktop Virtualization
Symantec's annual revenue is significantly more than VMware and Citrix combined. Unfortunately, most people think of it as an antivirus and desktop security company. (And certainly that's Symantec's history.)

That all changed a few years ago when Symantec bought Altiris. Altiris had previously bought a company called FS Logic, whose Software Virtualization Services was competing head-to-head against application virtualization products such as App-V and ThinApp.

Next, Symantec bought a company called AppStream, which added streaming capabilities to its application virtualization product line.

Shortly after that, Symantec bought a connection broker called nSuite.

And finally, this past March, Symantec signed an OEM agreement with RTO Software for its Virtual Profiles product.

So just like that, Symantec now has all the elements needed for a complete desktop virtualization solution. The company released the first version of the suite this past March, and an update is expected by the end of the year.

Quest Software
Quest is one of those companies that kind of does everything. Sort of like a smaller and more user-friendly version of CA. So it was really no surprise when Quest bought desktop virtualization vendor Provision Networks a few years ago. Provision Networks, which now operates as Quest's desktop virtualization group, has some really comprehensive desktop virtualization products, having grown up alongside Citrix in the server-based computing market of the 1990s.

Quest's main product is vWorkspace 6.0. Like Symantec, vWorkspace lets you use any hypervisor, and Quest provides everything else you need to deliver desktops, such as automation management, lifecycle management, a connection broker and a Web portal. Quest has also supercharged Remote Desktop Protocol by creating its own virtual channels for graphics remoting and device support, putting it on par with Citrix ICA/HDX in many ways.

Quest was the first company to combine virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Terminal Server offerings into a single product, and that idea lives on today. You just buy a desktop license, and you can deliver that desktop however you want.

Quest has actually won several awards for its desktop virtualization software over the years, and a lot of people -- myself included -- think it's one of the best products on the market.

The great thing about the desktop virtualization market is that there's a lot of competition. All of the vendors are updating their products really quickly, and they all really want to do deals. So if you're evaluating end-to-end desktop virtualization offerings, it's good to know there are a lot more than just the big three. And both Quest and Symantec are good places to start.

Next week, I'll expand the circle even further and look at companies such as Leostream and Ericom who are quietly winning business and deploying their own types of virtual desktops.

Brian Madden, Independent Industry Analyst and Blogger
Brian Madden is known throughout the world as an opinionated, supertechnical, fiercely independent desktop virtualization expert. He has written several books and over 1,000 articles about desktop and application virtualization. Madden's blog,, receives millions of visitors per year and is a leading source for conversation, debate and discourse about the application and desktop virtualization industry. He is also the creator of BriForum, the premier independent application delivery technical conference.

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