Does Symantec still have a VDI story? If so, we'll find out this week at Symantec Vision

After making a big splash in the desktop virtualization fray over the past few years, Symantec has started to wobble over the past few months.

After making a big splash in the desktop virtualization fray over the past few years, Symantec has started to wobble over the past few months. Right now they're at a sort of fork (a chasm, if you will?) that could lead them down the path of great success or the path of "nice try." Fortunately Symantec Vision 2010 is taking place in Las Vegas this week, and I'll be there trying to figure out which outcome is most likely for the company.

As a quick recap, Symantec really hit the desktop space hard when they bought Altiris way back in 2007. Altiris had previously bought FSLogic (2004) and was starting to make headway with their application virtualization product called SVS.

Then in April 2008, Symantec acquired AppStream (which added streaming capabilities to the SVS app virtualization) and in August they acquired connection broker-maker nSuite. By late 2008 I had declared that Symantec was now "another major player in the VDI space."

They continued hard in 2009, announcing that they were OEMing RTO Virtual Profiles and working with Intel to develop new virtualization technologies for the desktop. (Gabe published a timeline of all this a few months ago.) I left SymantecManage Fusion 09 fairly excited and impressed with Symantec's chances in the desktop space. (We covered ManageFusion 09 on that week's Brian Madden TV.)


After all that momentum, 2010 is turning out to be a tough year for Symantec in the desktop virtualization space.

It started in January on the earnings call, when Symantec's CEO Enrique Salem talked about how the company was focusing their sales initiatives on security and storage. There wasn't a single mention of "desktop" or "endpoint."

Then in Feb Symantec suddenly stopped selling their Virtual Profiles product (which we later learned was because VMware bought RTO Software, as Symantec's profile virtualization product was an OEM version of RTO's product.)

In March, Gabe and I conducted our Geek Week where we installed and wrote about the five most popular VDI solutions on the market (based on a survey of readers). Symantec won a spot in the Top 5, although they elected not to participate in the Geek Week.

Symantec Vision 2010

So now what? Geek Week is just over, and I'm in Las Vegas all week attending Symantec Vision 2010. My goal at Vision is to figure out what the heck is going on with Symantec in the desktop virtualization space.

At the end of the day, Symantec has a great chance in this space in spite of the recent events. Their acquisition of Altiris combined with their other client security products puts Symantec directly (and deeply) in the place that Citrix and VMware fantasize about: the "traditional" desktop endpoint that still makes up 99%+ of the desktop market. If Symantec gets their act together and figures out how to leverage that into some virtualization plays, Symantec could potentially sneak in and take tens (if not hundreds) of millions of endpoints from Citrix and VMware.

So what do you think? Has Symantec jumped the desktop shark? Do they have a chance? Who should I talk to and what should I ask this week at Vision 2010?

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I like the subheading 2010. It bears doom and forbidding


I saw a great solution that uses Symantec Workspace Virtualization. This Virtual storm looked great and they managed to virtualize thousands of desktops in a glance.

Symantec seems to not get the story on VDI. To bad. They could have a big piece of the market with a solution like that.

If they are at Vision, Ilike to see Brians thoughts about it.


Symantec destroys everything they touch....


Seems to be more money and less hype in security and storage, so I agree with their CEO. Altiris is a point solution with limited shelve life. It's the Ghost of modern day image deployment. They never really scaled, their A-Client sucks and delegated admin is a joke. They have done little with the product. Appstream is used by NOBODY!!!! The fact that they can stream native MSI and don't have to go through the App-V crap has never been exploited. End point security has never seen any real execution. RTO is not used in the real world and Kevin is lucky he found a buyer. Appsense/RES would a good fit with their security strategy. I mean Appsense can't have long to survive. Who needs profiles and the BS that is user installed apps (which they only solve partially) and in a very complex way, when the future is layers and management around that. VDI today in general is 90% hype 10% solutions which none of the leaders have talked about publicly. Are they awake?


@appdetective - For once I agree with everything you say!  As an Altiris customer, Symantec has completely ruined what once was a fantastic product.  Now its a mis-mash of legacy Altiris products and crappy Symantec ones and rumors of which Altiris product will be ripped out and replaced with yet another crappy Symantec product (like Recovery Solution)  Same thing happened to Bindview, and IMLogic.  SEP is a joke and most end point protection is and should be commodity.  What good is anti-virus in today's world when everything is zero-day and a browser hijack anyway.  Anytime I evaluate or look at any new technology and there is the even slightest inkling Symantec might purchase them I run for the hills.  Its must be the large BackupExec/NetBackup base that keeps this horrible organization in business.


I second @appdetective.

I haven't heard any Altiris customers saying good things about Symantec/Altiris. Quite the contrary. A lot of dissatisfaction with the product with many customers. The only people praising Altiris seem to be the techies who built their career on the product .....

With regards to AppSense - the number of companies that have a complex enough environment that requires an even more complex solution (AppSense) to their problem are few and far between.


@ AppDetective - Layers!!! 90% Hype and 10% solutions - AppSense - 90%  more than just profiles

@ Christoph - The number of companies with a complex environment = 1,000,000 licenses in 2009