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Top 10 DaaS, VDI news stories of 2014

Desktop as a service, GPU and application publishing dominated virtualization news in 2014. Take a look back and catch up on what happened with Microsoft, Citrix and VMware.

It's not hard to see what desktop virtualization admins cared about in 2014. The top 10 news stories all focused on how major vendors deal with applications, DaaS and GPUs.

There were some big shakeups this year, from VMware finally competing with Citrix on app remoting to executive overhauls to big changes in Microsoft's licensing model.

The stories that took hold also say something about the state of virtualization: This year truly was the year of desktop as a service (DaaS), with cloud desktop adoption underway. With GPU advancements that make delivering high-resolution graphics to remote users a snap and increased competition among vendors, doing DaaS could become a reality for many shops in 2015.

What else had desktop virtualization pros glued to the news this year? Read on to get recaps of the most-read virtualization news stories of 2014:

10. VMware Horizon 6 app remoting takes on Citrix XenApp

VMware finally answered critics' call for a product to compete with Citrix's XenApp. The app remoting platform in Horizon 6 works through PCoIP with support for Remote Desktop Session Host, ThinApp, cloud-based and Citrix virtual apps. The offering comes at an opportune time, when some Citrix users are thinking about making a tedious upgrade from XenApp 6.5 to 7.6. If the migration is going to be trouble either way, this feature could sway customers to VMware's side.

9. Microsoft offers per-user licensing, but at what cost?

Another long-awaited change to the virtualization world was fulfilled this year, and it was to something particularly hairy -- per-user Software Assurance and Virtual Desktop Access licensing. Many companies know the pain associated with licensing virtual desktops under the per-device model, so being able to license by user instead is a welcome change. But the per-user option became available on Dec. 1, and Microsoft was reluctant to release pricing details. That information only became available recently, and not because Redmond coughed it up. Customers say a per-user license comes in around $15 per user per year, which could make doing VDI more affordable for many shops.

8. VMware CTO talks Citrix takedown

Early in 2014, VMware's CTO for the Americas, Chris Wolf, dropped some major hints about what was to come for the company, specifically about application publishing in Horizon 6. He also talked DaaS and giving companies choices about how to manage their workloads.

7. Citrix CTO says CWS is the cornerstone for the future

In his first interview as CTO of desktops and applications for Citrix, Gunnar Berger pinned the company's future on Citrix Workspace Services (CWS), which will let customers move all the management consoles for Citrix products to the cloud. Berger also hinted that the company will move money around, investing in areas that haven't seen as much attention in the past.

6. Microsoft Project Mohoro details emerge

Many people thought that Mohoro would be Microsoft's DaaS play, but it's more like applications as a service. We scooped the story about the Azure Remote App Service, which lets you execute applications in Microsoft's cloud service. Users access the apps like dedicated remote session. And if you use CWS, you can use Azure Remote App Services with it. Industry watchers say Microsoft stopped short of doing DaaS so it could avoid making a change to its client OS Service Provider License Agreement.

5. Partner-based DaaS persists for Citrix

Before we knew for sure that Project Mohoro would tie in with CWS, Citrix customers had an eye to whether the symbiotic relationship between the two companies would permeate their DaaS offerings. But Mohoro details were still up in the air, and CWS is still in TechPreview. Citrix's General Manager maintained that delivering DaaS through the company's network of partners would remain advantageous because it creates diversity in the market.

4. GPU support: Microsoft vs. Citrix vs. VMware

Users who have graphic workload requirements can use VDI with better performance since GPU advancements have come around. But Microsoft, Citrix and VMware VDI platforms support GPU differently. IT has to know what users need, and they need to know if their VDI product supports virtual GPU, GPU pass-through or software GPU.

3. VMware shakes up EUC leadership

Not only did VMware make Kit Colbert its end-user computing (EUC) CTO, the company also nabbed two execs from Citrix: Bob Schultz and Sumit Dhawan. Schultz worked in Citrix's desktop and applications group, and Dhawan was on the enterprise mobility team. The moves appear to be attempts to regain focus and compete more effectively in the desktop virtualization market.

2. Apps ditch the desktop in XenApp 7.5

Enhancements to XenApp and XenDesktop that were released in January of this year gave virtual desktop administrators the ability to deliver individual applications rather than full desktops. There's a bigger mobile workforce than ever, so the ability to deliver business applications -- rather than full desktops -- to mobile devices is welcome.

1. VMware app publishing scoop

Back in April, scooped the news that VMware's application publishing feature for Horizon 6 was on its way. IT pros and admins who had been briefed on the offering said it would level the playing field between VMware and Citrix, and that it filled in the gaps in the company's EUC portfolio. After the publishing feature and leadership shakeups at VMware this year, experts said we should expect even more innovation to come.

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