Symantec adds a desktop broker to past Altiris and AppStream buys. We have another major VDI player!

Looking to "redefine endpoint virtualzation," yesterday Symantec announced that they bought connection broker software vendor nSuite Technologies. Known mostly in the medical field, nSuite's Desktop Connection Broker product manages ICA or RDP connections to virtual desktops and to Terminal Server / Citrix sessions.

Looking to "redefine endpoint virtualzation," yesterday Symantec announced that they bought connection broker software vendor nSuite Technologies. Known mostly in the medical field, nSuite's Desktop Connection Broker product manages ICA or RDP connections to virtual desktops and to Terminal Server / Citrix sessions. They also have a single sign-on solution and a rudinmentary desktop shell management product with Proximity Printing.

Symantec bought Altiris way back in January 2007, adding a whole slew of capabilities to their bag including Altiris' application virtualization product called SVS. In April 2008, Symantec bought AppStream, adding a streaming capability to their SVS product. Since then, we learned at BriForum that Symantec has created a new group within the company called "Endpoint Virtualization." (Watch a video of Symantec's Brian Duckering talking to Brian Madden about this at BriForum 2008.)

When writing about VDI over the past six months or so, I've continually focused on five companies:

  • Citrix
  • VMware
  • Ericom
  • Quest
  • Qumranet

Based on this acquisition, I'm now going to officially expand my list to include Company #6: Symantec. Just how important is Symantec? They have a market cap of $18.5B on about $6B in sales. Citrix has a market cap of $5.3B on $1.5B in sales, while VMware's market cap is $13.3B on $1.6B in sales. In other words, Symantec's annual sales are twice as much as Citrix and VMware combined! (Of course I understand that Symantec is a huge company focused on about a hundred different things, but the point is that if they want to make a splash in the VDI space, then they have the resources to do it.)

So, what does Symantec bring to the VDI (or "endpoint virtualization") space? Most of us know Symantec as the antivirus company (or in the corporate space, we know their solutions for backup, security, compliance, etc.). But in the endpoint space, we don't know too much. A quick look to that page on their website shows that most of their endpoint products are based on stuff they got from Altiris, and they focus around software deployment, image management, inventory, etc. But they also own Ghost and Wise.

Much like Quest Software, Symantec really owns most of the pieces / parts they need to build a kick-ass solution in the VDI space. Imagine Ghost for VDI image management? Their endpoint security tools for desktop lockdown? SVS and AppStream for application streaming? Wise for application and user personality packaging? And of course nSuite for connection brokering.

With six strong companies in this space, and various technical components coming out over the next 22 months, the VDI market is poised to become a very interesting place to be for the next few years.

What do you think? Can Symantec pull it off? What are they still missing?

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If past history is any indication, no they will not be able to pull this together.
There a bit of a Microsoft they buy a company and it gets lost in a backroom somewhere
How will they manage the virtualized desktops. Citrix has Ardence, if they can do something with strage foundations, then maybe this'll become interesting

I was at a Dell event last month and Altiris was there and they were trying to talk me into their streaming app solution.  I asked the guy, how does this help me if I am running a thin client?
He just stammered.  I looked at him and I said there is an easy solution. Set up the program to allow the app to be streamed to a UNC on a server that the workstation can be mapped to and then can run the app from there (better yet run via TS/Citrix) If they had this functionality they could become a player in the industry.


Symantec blows at everything and has way too much overlap with everything they've acquired.  You have Bindview, then you have Altiris....Symantec bought both of them...overlap.  You have PCAnywhere, you have Altiris...overlap.  It takes them years to intergrate these different acquisions together (look at Veritas and LiveState - that took forever)



Stream it to a UNC? Obviously, you're just as ignorant as the Altiris guy who got 'stammered' by your genius.

Do you have any idea how this solution even work? Altiris uses a disk driver to overlay the virtual disk on top of the physical one, making the virtual apps appear as though they're installed locally.

Isn't it funny how high-level admins always have the 'solution'?   


Ha!  Nice point!  Don't forget about ON Technology! 


Have they gone too far down the road of cobbling together a solution themselves to be considered as another suitor to Citrix or even VMWare in the short term? Are Symantec really serious about this and, if so, would they be willing to effectively write off their acquisitions to date in favour of a vendor with an existing, more rounded solution? Not having ever heard of nSuite, I don't imagine it would have cost them the earth so perhaps not...

I certainly like the Veritas angle and it's gone suspiciously quiet with regard to the OEM agreement signed with XenSource before the acquisition.


I too have never heard of nSuite, but I am a heavy user of Symantec prodcuts, and have been following there news/acquisitions closely over the last couple years, and I have to agree with the one guest about the overlapage.


My coworkers and I were talking a couple months back where Symantec got its start, because every product we could name that the had they had acquired from someone else including their biggest cashcow Norton.  We ended up looking them up in Wikipedia to trace back their history (  They have made some great acquistions over the years, with Altiris probably their biggest and best purchase yet.  They have also bought some weird ones like SwapDrive (, but I guess then they wouldn't have (but really $123 million bor ?).  I have also seen that it does take them years to integrate these different acquisions.  The are just now starting to replace Altiris Carbon Copy with PcAnyware, their replacing RDeploy with Ghost (sort of it will take a little longer for this to complete), They still have to recode SVS to include the AppStream technology and make it work with Altiris more gracefully instead being a Frankenstein solution that it currently is.  They acquired Vontu late last year, which brings the endpoint solutions too a whole new level, and the Vontu product manager mentioned to me recently that will take at least a year or two befor ethe merge the two endpoint solutions together.

So I have to agree that Symantec does "really own most of the pieces/ parts they need to build a kick-ass solution in the VDI space,"  however right now it really just a big hodgepodge of products currently that needs some serious refining before I count them as a serious VDI solution.  I really think they're just trying to stay afloat, for if the future is VDI and/or thin client for the enterprise, then their Altiris Management Suite and many of their other products will be useless.  I think it would be really cool if they could leverage the VMware VMSafe Security Technology, and make it so that you wouldn't have to install their antivirus/endpoint/antimalware on the VDI, you could instead install it on the host and then monitor all the VDI running on that host.  That is really where they need to make their moves.


If you want to see a list of all the recently acquisitions from Symantec go here:

You can see a list of all their recent acquisitions here:

That sounds just like VMware ThinApp.
Symantec is where apps go to die.
I would strongly suspect that the preceding 3 comments were made from a competing vendor.  Jealous much?
I can tell you guys this, "you ain't seen nothing yet."  I have first hand knowledge that the guys in Symantec's virtualization endpoint group "get it."  Watch this picture.
No, that's not what VMware ThinApp does.
And can you expect to not have Microsoft on your list?  Obviously this is early in this market space, and one should expect consolidation once the market matures.  It's going to be a fun ride!
What picture?
Would be interesting to see how they perform. Btw. what happened to that Solid ICE benchmark? Meld due to global warming?
oh, no Jeff, you did not say that.  We at Symantec may have been hiring for this enterprising new group.