A eulogy for vWorkspace

We pay our respects to one of the pioneering products in desktop virtualization.

Yesterday we lost a friend. Dell has decided to end development on the vWorkspace product. There will be no vWorkspace 9.

Many of the technologies that Dell acquired when they bought Quest Software will continue to live on as part of the Wyse product line. (Protocol and performance enhancements, security enhancements, etc.) Dell is just getting out of the connection broker business.

Dell will continue to support vWorkspace for years, and they’ll continue to sell additional licenses to current vWorkspace customers who want to expand their deployments. But there won’t be any new versions of vWorkspace, and they won’t be marketing it or selling it to new customers moving forward.

In many ways, this was inevitable. Many of us believed this was not an “if”, but a “when”.

vWorkspace had a long history and was a significant product in our industry. It was originally developed by Peter Ghostine at Emergent OnLine, a DC-area reseller Peter co-owned (along with his brother, Paul). Originally they started building tools to help Citrix customers (profile management, printer management, etc.). Eventually they bundled their tools into a single product (“Provision-IT") with a fully-functional connection broker to compete against Citrix head on. Their focus was on simplicity and cost-effectiveness, including the features people really needed without lots of added complexity.

There’s one thing everyone should remember about Emergent Online (and Provision Networks, the new name for the company when they decided to spin out their software business into a standalone company from the reseller): Provision Networks was the company who invented the concept of combining RDSH sessions and VDI desktops into a single product.

Let that sink in for a minute.

I remember the exact moment when I learned this. It was at BriForum 2007 Chicago (at The Gleacher Center), and I was talking to Peter Ghostine during a quiet moment when the sessions were going on. It was a rainy day, with a deluge soaking everyone earlier that day as we were moving from the hotel to the conference. When I was talking to Peter, the sun came out, and we joked about the bright future of our industry and Provision Networks.

Peter showed me his product and how RDSH servers were managed in the same tree as VDI virtual machines. “If you think about it,” Peter explained, “a VDI desktop is nothing more than a single user Terminal Server."

Brilliant.

It seems so obvious now, but that was a radical concept in early 2007.

Later that year, Quest Software bought Provision Networks, and I excitedly wrote that Citrix needed competition, and that I hoped with the financial backing of Quest, the product that became vWorkspace could make it happen.

vWorkspace had many successes over the years. The fans of vWorkspace love it more than any fan of XenDesktop or Horizon ever loved their products. But at the end of the day, when Dell bought Quest, it put them in a tough position with vWorkspace. Dell goes on stage with VMware at VMworld, and they go on stage with Citrix at Synergy. They go to market with both companies in the VDI space. Yet they also had this other product which was arguably as capable as either yet one-third the price.

At TechTarget we’ve done a lot of business with Dell over the years. In meetings I’ve argued to the last breath that Dell needs to get out there and tell the story about how great vWorkspace is. (I still argue that it has all the features that 95% of customers need, in a package that’s much cheaper and far easier to use than anything from Citrix or VMware. Their advanced policy control and auto client configuration is the best in the industry, and they're still the only product that has profile management built-in as a core feature rather than a bolt-on.)

Whenever I pleaded my case for Dell to ramp up the messaging around vWorkspce, the response was always the same. “We have to tread lightly around our relationships with VMware, Citrix and Microsoft.” Being the fourth broker was hard enough, and being the fourth broker in a world where they're a key global partner of the makers of the Top 3 brokers means that their fate was sealed.

Fortunately Dell isn’t completely ditching the technology and IP they have from vWorkspace. To the contrary, they’re actually redoubling their efforts around the Wyse thin clients and software, (and will even be reassigning many of the vWorkspace engineers to those products). So it’s great to see some of those core technologies live on.

But the reality of 2016 (and beyond) is the world doesn’t need four brokers. Dell has their hands full with many more important issues now, and continuing to invest in a connection broker just doesn’t make sense anymore.

So with sadness and respect, I appreciate where they’re coming from. I can’t even say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. Those who haven’t yet moved on soon will, but let’s not forget how refreshingly revolutionary vWorkspace was. So raise a glass, take a drink, and don’t let time forget a significant product that shaped the way we all work today.

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That is so sad to hear. If anything, it just goes to show that being successful is not just about having a great idea or product. I would even dare to say that 60% of success lies in the execution (which entails a lot). Since vWorkspace was my baby for a while I can honestly say that it was a product with great potential because everyone working on the product understood the problems customers faced and solved them in the right way. But as stated, that is not enough - not by a long shot.


Thank you vWorkspace for teaching me how SBC and VDI are effectively the same, for pioneering Connection Brokering and for showing us the value of having workspace and profile management as a part of your desktop virtualization product. It seems that those lessons were not lost on the market.


RIP vWorkspace.


Disclaimer: I used to work for Provision/Quest/Dell and looked after vWorkspace..


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Sadly this is bound to happen... A large company acquires a great company and kills it. Dell contunues to do this with:


- ScriptLogic


- Quest Software (yes I am prediction they will ruin this further)


- Enstratius, formerly enStratus Networks (they will ruin this as well)


- KACE Networks (still fighting...)


If you look at the IDC marketscape, there are three gorillas:


blogs.vmware.com/.../IDC-Marketscape-Graphic.png


(Funny thing is VWware and Citrix biggest competitor isn't each other, but rather their 'friend' Microsoft.)


Dell sadly needs these guys to survive, so poking them won't bode well for their future.


Ericom will continue to cling on and be the fighter they always are and be the largest Citrix hater. Got to love their effort!


NIMBOXX is starting trend... Can Vendors like Nutanix, SimpliVity and Pivot3 follow the trend, be a big boy and compete with Citrix or VMware? It is happening... they just play nice at the moment.


BTW... Atantis computing; Did you know they sell hardware now!? (Shocked they did not get acquired yet)


My prediction... Leostream (I am shocked they are still around per Gabe's article) will get acquired by one of the big hyperconverged vendors.


Then there are our friends over at Workspot... VDI 2.0. Really? Acquired or dead by end of 2016 is my prediction.


It is sad when a great technology gets shelved but this is the nature of the business we play in... Job security, right!?


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hmmm. lots of good people have been involved with that product line.


With that said, Dell does own a broker... it falls under the subsidiary mentioned.... VMW  why own two?


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Worked for Quest/Dell for 11 years and worked on vWorkspace for 3+ years and loved the team, the atmosphere and the product itself.  To have a product that did most of what the big two did for a fraction of the cost was refreshing and we just could not push past the 800lb gorilla (Citrix) and the 500 lb gorilla (VMware) but had some wonderful times and great wins over the life of the product.  I have since moved on to MSFT but will always remember vWorkspace (and our trip to Australia Brian..


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https://t.co/DI3KrI7MCn

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Would any of the vWorkspace code be of any use in VMware Horizon?  


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@vgernyc


From long experience in the software industry: it doesn't work that way. Companies buy brands, patents, customer base, and sometimes talent. They never buy lines of code


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Disclaimer: I still work for Dell and looked after vWorkspace.


What a fantastic bunch of folks, I have enjoyed every minute of my time with this team, but I guess now it is a case of moving on to the next big challenge.


I had a Partner call me up and ask "Are you OK?" ;-)


He then went on to say that in his view (not mine) it was the easiest and simplest to implement with clean modern code of all the VDI Brokers.


I joined in 2010 and since then the improvements were brilliant - I tip my hat to some of the best coders I will probably ever work with - to Marc Zapf and the rest of the team a very big "Well Done", and all the best in your next endeavors.


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My only hope is that vWorkspace techology and is spirit will be part of a new "Horizon"... Meanwhile RIP vWorkspace :'(


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How can I test this product before it goes under?
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If they wanted the Wyse thin client, maybe they need to sell the vWorkspace off, let someone else support it & it's current client. Or did they by Quest to kill any real competition to the $top 3.

1/3 the price, I will welcome that any day.
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