This article is the third and final part of the discussion around the desktop and application virtualization vendors that were at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas last month. (Check out Parts 1 and 2 if you haven't read them yet.)
Scense is a software company that makes an application delivery and user environment configuration product. I only recently learned about them when their CEO emailed me after I posted the article about the 2010 VDI+ vision. In the article, I'd written that an important capability needed in future VDI deployments would be the ability to automatically capture and package applications that users install on their own (so they can be re-deployed to whatever desktop the user happens to use in the future). A sentence in the email I received from the CEO read "The fourth point we can solve for a significant part too, since we find with our customer that by using the Scense solution they can virtualize a lot more applications than without Scense. The Mondriaan group moved from 80% to 98%."
While this is very cool, I completely and 100% mis-read that sentence. I had in my head that Scense had solved the user installed application problem. So when I went to the booth at VMworld and started asking about that, the guys told me "no" and I was a bit sad. Only later did I realize it was my own stupid fault.
That said, Scense's product (called Scense 5.0) is actually pretty cool. They have an app virtualization and delivery layer that hooks into MSIs, EXEs, InstallShield, Symantec / Altiris SVS, ThinApp, and SoftGrid / App-V apps. You can assign all of these apps to users from one place. Scense 5 also monitors and controls the entire user environment, saving changes centrally when needed, rolling back changes, handling mandatory versus custom settings, etc. (The whole feature list is on their site.) Overall it seems like an interesting solution that I need to learn more about.
ThinLaunch is one of these software companies whose product converts an old PC into a thin client. In quantities of of 100, it only costs $20, so that's cool. ThinLaunch installs on like an app on Windows (98 or newer) and essentially replaces the explorer shell. Michael blogged about these guys the other day. I'm glad he likes it, because I just can't get excited about this kind of stuff. I mean you have knoppix, Windows Fundamentals, and like ten other commercial products that seem to do about the exact same thing.
ThinPrint was there reminding everyone that their awesome printing solution also works in VDI environments. They now have a Virtual Channel Gateway that you can install into your VDI desktops so you can send your print jobs to your local printers via a virtual channel on RDP or ICA. (Full disclosure: ThinPrint has been a sponsor of BriForum in the past.)
Teradici makes a remote display protocol called "PC-over-IP." This protocol is pretty cool. It supports audio, video, multimedia, client-side USB, and all sorts of other important stuff that make it better than even ICA.
The only "catch" with Teradici is that today, they're a hardware-based solution. You need to install an expansion card with a proprietary Teradici chip on the host, and then you need a client device with another Teradici chip in it. The client isn't so much the problem, but right now the cards for the host are one-to-one, which means you need one chip on your host for each VDI instance.
That said, one of the biggest announcements of the show was that VMware and Teradici signed a licensing agreement where they will co-develop a version of PC-over-IP that's software-only. (Of course while this is cool, who knows when it will be released and how close the performance of the software-only version will be to the current hardware-accelerated version.)
I did get a chance to talk to the Teradici and VMware folks more in-depth about this deal, and I'll write more about those conversations next week.
Like ThinPrint, triCerat's main goal at VMworld seemed to be to show people that their stuff works in VDI environments as well as it works in Terminal Server environments. Like AppSense, RTO Software, Scense, and RES Powerfuse, triCerat's Simplify Suite can now manage Terminal Server, VDI, and traditional desktops with a single product from a single console. (Full disclosure: triCerat has been a sponsor of BriForum in the past.)
Virtual Computer won the company name lottery. (They even managed to score virtualcomputer.com.) They're a software company that makes a Xen-based client hypervisor for running local / offline VDI. It's pretty cool (and very similar to Neocleus from Part 2 of this series). Hopefully Citrix buys these guys (or Neocleus) to compete against VMware's vClient.
Thin Client Vendors
You all know what I think of thin client vendors (or unmanaged enpoints or desktop appliances or whatever the hell they're calling them this week.) There were a lot of thin client vendors at VMworld, including:
The other thin client announcement from VMworld was that VMware created a partner certification program called "VMware Ready." A "VMware Ready thin client," according to VMware's Jerry Chen, means "customers can deploy [insert vendor name]'s thin client with confidence, knowing it is reliable, secure and optimized for the VMware platform” according to VMware's Jerry Chen. (What a gem of a quote that is!)
The "New Innovator" booths
When I initially wrote about my goals for VMworld, I asked readers of the website to suggest which vendors I spent time with. One of the suggestions was that I visit the "New Innovators" booth area. The idea is that these little boothlet things are cheap floorspace for new companies ("innovators," if you will) who have a fun story to tell.
The reality is that the vendors in this area were no different than any other vendor at the show, except vendors in this area were too cheap to buy a real booth. "New" innovators included vendors like CLI, RTO, Scense, Thin Launch, and VXL. (And so many of these exhibitor descriptions started with "the global leader in...," which to me isn't exactly the quality of a new innovator.
There were a lot of other vendors at the show who are familiar to readers of this site. Companies like eG Innovations, Expand Networks, Lakeside Software, and Riverbed. I didn't cover them here because they don't have products that specifically relate to desktop or application virtualization. (This is not to suggest that these aren't useful in these casees, but that these are more general products that can "also" be used for desktop or apps.)