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."
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.