Citrix, VMware bring VDI and converged infrastructure together

EUC heavyweights Citrix and VMware are getting in the act of offering converged infrastructure products to aid organizations doing VDI.

As the belief grows that converged infrastructure provides the best way to implement VDI, Citrix and VMware are preaching to the choir with new offerings.

Citrix's new converged infrastructure package, WorkspacePod, is powered by Melio, the virtual storage product that came as part of its Sanbolic acquisition earlier this year. And a new VMware technology preview, Project Enzo, combines cloud-based virtual desktops and apps with hyper-converged infrastructure from VMware and its partners.

Converged infrastructure (CI) drives VDI adoption because of its simplicity, said Robert Young, research director with IDC in Framingham, Mass.

"If you can get these converged infrastructure [products], it takes a lot of complexity out of the equation," Young said.

In particular, CI should be the default option for VDI instead of all-flash arrays, because it puts storage and compute right next to each other, said Simon Bramfitt, analyst with Entelechy Associates in Concord, Calif.

"That solves so many problems and delivers consistent performance," he said.

This week, a Citrix Synergy conference session will introduce Melio as a platform for software-defined storage, application availability and scale-out capabilities on top of physical, cloud or virtual infrastructures. When deployed with XenApp and XenDesktop, Melio enables high availability of VMs, images, data bases and user profiles.

VMware joins the converged fray

In VMware's Project Enzo, administrators can manage cloud-based and on-premises virtual workspace services through a single Web-based portal, which is available via VMware vCloud Air. It is designed for quick deployment of workspaces; it could create 2,000 virtual desktops in under 20 minutes in a test environment, VMware said.

Project Enzo uses VMware's new Smart Node technology, which automates the lifecycle of virtual workspaces and integrates with hyper-converged infrastructure products. VMware will integrate Smart Node technology into future versions of its hyper-converged offerings, EVO:RAIL and the soon-to-be-released EVO:RACK. A public beta of Project Enzo will be available this summer; VMware did not disclose pricing or a general availability date.

Integrating workspace services and converged infrastructure systems is the right approach, but VMware must put more effort into making EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK into hyper-converged powerhouses before it can be considered a strong player in that area, Bramfitt said.

Customers can also use Project Enzo with third-party vendors' hyper-converged offerings, as long as those vendors create a specification for Smart Node and base their offerings on vSphere 6, said Sumit Dhawan, VMware's senior vice president and general manager of desktops.

Citrix partners with VCE for new offering

Citrix, for its part, has the intellectual property to offer a complete converged offering for companies that want to adopt VDI, Young said.

And converged infrastructure from Citrix isn't the only option for XenApp and XenDesktop customers. The company recently formed a partnership with VCE, the converged infrastructure provider that VMware, Cisco and EMC originally created. VCE's new VDI Integration Service for XenApp and XenDesktop includes Citrix NetScaler with TriScale Technology on the VCE Vblock Specialized System for Extreme Applications.

The integration includes full implementation and testing of XenApp, XenDesktop and NetScaler components, configuration of Citrix Profile Manager and operational configuration and installation of NetScaler.

"It makes sense that [Citrix] understands folks will want different models for this and have a choice of components," Young said. "For some folks, just running on-premises will be fine."

Jake O'Donnell is the news writer for SearchConsumerization and SearchVirtualDesktop. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

Dig Deeper on Citrix virtual desktops