A few weeks ago, Brian wrote about how VMware’s evolution from View to Horizon DaaS might be an indicator that VMware is working on an RDSH-based solution that would compete directly with XenApp. We’ve been on VMware’s case about this for some time (as has just about every View customer, I’d imagine), so I surely hope it comes out sooner than later. In a recent interview with VMware’s new CTO for the Americas, Chris Wolf, he mentioned that it was something customers were looking for, saying:
“If I were to give VMware any advice, it would be to go after that published application use case, because that's really the one area that I would say Citrix has done well against VMware competitively. But if we can just do a full replacement of Citrix now, things will get interesting. I can't say VMware's going to do that, but what I can tell you is that customers have been asking for that type of capability, and VMware has always been very receptive to customer requests.”
Given his previous role overseeing the entire industry as an analyst for Gartner, you can only assume that it’s on the radar. Since Teradici has already done the base level of integration with Arch back in 2012 (I wrote an article back then titled “Teradici does what VMware should have done years ago”), not to mention a lot more tweaking due to their relationship with AWS Workspaces, you can expect that the product is fairly mature. So what impact would that have to Citrix customers, VMware customers, and hybrids? Let’s take a look.
VMware View customers with XenApp
It’s not hard to imagine that companies using VMware View are also leveraging some sort of RDSH-based solution for certain use cases, no matter how much poo-pooing VMware has done in the past about it. There’s just some situations that are more appropriate. Because of that, IT departments are forced into a difficult situation (well, difficult compared to having a single stack). They have different management, different WAN optimization, protocol tweaks, and clients. They can’t take advantage of zero clients for users that are accessing both types of desktops/applications. The prospect of a single management interface (which kind of exists already with XenApp integration but is by no means ideal), paired with a single platform and a single protocol not only levels the playing field, but also is sort of a no-brain decision for organizations using View.
This would be a big hit to Citrix, assuming the product is mature enough to apply to the majority of use cases. If it were to match XenApp on many core features you’re likely to see a lot of XenApp/View customers move entirely to View. If VMware releases a 1.0 version of the software that isn’t much improved over the last time we saw Arch (which Teradici said was not ready to be a Citrix competitor), this is all moot.
XenApp / XenDesktop customers
Those shops that are running nothing but Citrix won’t have much incentive to move to a different platform given the challenges of a forklift migration of desktops, clients, and networking. Sure, there might be a few that have been waiting to see what happens, but odds are if a company is paying for maintenance today on the entire stack, it will stay a Citrix customer.
The companies that are only running XenApp are another interesting option. There are two groups of these shops–those that pay for maintenance and those that don’t. Those that don’t are probably perfectly content with the solution they have, which is why they stopped paying for maintenance to begin with. Then again, some might just be waiting for a better solution to come along. They would be candidates to switch, but I doubt that would make a material difference to Citrix since they’re not getting any money from them anyway.
Companies that are paying for XenApp maintenance are again not very likely to jump ship unless they’ve been avoiding a VDI solution until VMware pulled even.
Nothing good can come of this for Citrix
At the end of the day there isn’t a single thing about this that Citrix can hang their hat on. If VMware releases an RDSH solution, Citrix will release something that says “VMware’s entrance into this space serves to validate the technology that we’ve been pioneering for 25 years,” and then they’ll go about trying to retain XenApp customers that run VMware View.
VMware might not gain that many new customers since the main adopters will almost definitely be running View already, but the damage it inflicts on Citrix will be more than enough for them to be satisfied. If you thought VMware was pulling ahead of Citrix before, just wait (that is, unless Citrix absolutely blows people away at Synergy next month).
Then again, XenApp customers are faced with the knowledge that to upgrade to XenApp 7.5, they’re looking at a complete redesign. If they’re going to start from scratch, you’d think many dedicated XenApp customers would at least take a look at a VMware solution. In that sense, VMware could actually add new customers!
The big question is, when will this happen? Is it a VMworld thing? It could be, since Teradici has presumably been tied up with Amazon for the past year and VMware needs more time to get it integrated. Then again, VMware has had access to the Arch technology for a few years (remember, it leveraged the View broker), so it may have been building something in parallel. Buying Desktone surely accelerated that need, so maybe we’ll see it by Synergy. There’s a big announcement coming next week, but all the web site talks about is a demonstration. It could be Mirage or DaaS related, for all we know.
Assuming it’s happening sometime, Citrix better watch out. VMware has pulled ahead, and it appears they’re poised to create some space between themselves and their next biggest competitor.