If VMware releases an RDSH solution, Citrix might not be able to catch back up.

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.

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. 

XenApp-Only customers

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.


Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

While this will be bad for Citrix and good for VMware who I am sure will do it around the Synergy timeframe, it will not get many more customers to move from physical to virtual which is where the honey pot is. That's where both VMware and Citrix need to focus and offer compelling new value so virtual is better than physical. This can't be just about it's cheaper BS or we improved the protocol or reduced cost again. It's a combination of those things with solving for apps, not just published apps.

I expect what we'll hear from Citrix to my app statement above is we have frame nobody gives a F about hawk, which makes us better than RDS. If that is all Citrix has to add, then clearly they have their head up their ass.  I think continues to suffer from CEO limbo and having nobody like a cwolf who knows what the F is going on with customers. I agree with Gabe, Citrix is being left behind fast. Question is, do they understand that they are being b-slapped? They've been sitting on their hands doing little for years for the desktop and sucking the juice out of the dry XenApp lemon with adding new value.


The main thing you forgot to discuss or mention is an RDS solution is way more than simply adding a protocol to RDS SH. VMware, even with Chris Wolf, does not have the skills, the understanding and so on to deliver something that is indeed a XenApp competitor. As per my tweet, took VMware years to make VMware View go from a half ass effort into what it is today (IMHO still carries the word ASS but now much closer to a decent solution). Thinking that VMware can deliver a proper and decent, XenApp killer alternative in a short amount of time is simply crazy. Borderline insane. The only route for them IMHO is to acquire someone that has that already. But even in such cases their track record with acquisitions that are supposed to be added to products is not the best out there. Just look at the RTO acquisition.

Chris MAY be able to make things happen in better ways but again, trying to pull this off on its own will certainly lead to either another half ass solution or a solution that will be ok by 2019 when RDS may not be what we know as of today.

I agree with @appdetective that Citrix has been milking the XenApp cow for a very long time without really adding any earth shattering feature to justify a Platinum SA renewal every year. We know they have the skills to do a much better job BUT also know the issues regarding Marketing/Sales/Management that in ways sort of hold back their technical greatness (and I say that as someone that has been in this industry for longer than 99% of everyone out there - they are VERY SKILLED technically). You can certainly exchange the words 'hold back' with 'f*** up' easily on the statement above.



Gimme a break, CRod! :) I said:


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.


Any solution that legitimately competes with Citrix has a lot of work to do to catch up to a 20 year old solution. I think VMware knows that, having seen so many others come and go. That could be why it's taking so long and could be a little while longer.


Gabe, If they are going to do it it will be a Blast..  Remember AppBlast? Now evolved to VMware Blast protocol, if you follow some artifacts this will be the answer to Xenapp.  The Google Chromebook and VMware partnership to bring traditional Windows App to Chromebook how do we think they'll going to do that?  I remember reading during the time blast was first release that VMware has not forgotten about application remoting that it is still being worked on.  Again I realize that we still not certain if this will leverage RDSH or full VM.  At that point it will not matter to me.  As long as they accomplish Application remoting, I don't care if they do it on RDSH or not, the user does not know the backend anyways.  I actually just prefer full VM, easy to teardown and "should" use the same VDA licensing model.



"Thinking that VMware can deliver a proper and decent, XenApp killer alternative in a short amount of time is simply crazy. Borderline insane." That way of thinking is what got Blockbuster out of business.  Being naive about competition, and thinking the cow is not going to run out of milk.  I understand the point about how Xenapp is mature, but we still can't make an assumtion on companies capability, especially VMware.  I have a feeling that they already have something brewing and they are just fine tuning it before they release it to the public.  


Found it.  

"(Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the need for application remoting – I promise.)"



Help me understand this better Gabe..

So you are saying VMware will release RDSH and citrix will not be able to catch up and you know XenApp is been matured over 25 years and still you think citrix has to catchup.

While I agree it wont be good for citrix , but I do not think vmware will release something that will be at par with XenApp for another 5 years. They might release something quick and dirty , but to get to XenApp level it will take lot of time my friend.


App publishing indeed has lots of moving parts. Just off the top of my head:

1. Seamless windows - RemoteApp? do it themselves? Not do it (single app inside a local window, old MSTSC style)?

2. Browsing apps and assigning to users/groups

3. Application load balancing

4. Session sharing

5. Session lifetime management

6. RDSH or single app VMs

7. Integration with app streaming and app virtualization

It will indeed be very interesting to see what, if anything, VMware does in this category


@ Mac, didn't I make that clear that VMware has a lot to prove in order for it to be even close to XenApp?

Also, I wrote that the only slam dunk deals for VMware--if the solution is good--will be existing View customers that are using XenApp?

I'm not saying XenApp is dead. I am saying that VMware is crushing it lately while Citrix is dragging a bit, and introducing another feature that customers have been clamoring for will likely widen that gap.


@Totie - I like Blast, I'm just not sure how to treat it in this situation. You could be right, but I think there are a different set of use cases that Blast is appropriate for.

The thing is, the technology to do RDSH with PCoIP exists, so it's not too big of a leap to think that it could be included in View.


@Gabe , Yes you did.

It sounds much better if you put like this explicitly :). I did not mention it earlier but I think may be the blog title is does not suit to the contents of the blog ( it is just my opinion) ..title sounded bit exterme


VMware has Horizon Special event next week, maybe we will some hints what's coming.

Installing and managing client (view/ctx) has always been major problem. My two cents is we will new client/protol soon, maybe something Netflix is using. It's already in every device and browser.


To me the bigger threat here is not running View on RDSH, but rather VMware being able to deliver published apps. (And at that point, I'm not sure I care whether those published apps are connecting back to an RDSH session or to a non-persistent single-user VM.)

In fact with the density and automation of virtualization platforms, the killer app is the published app, not the session type.


If I was either vendor I would be more concerned with what Mohoro will deliver in H2. If MS offer published apps it will be interesting times...


Citrix certainly haven't helped themselves in this space as it is, first by killing off XenApp and then resurrecting it with reduced functionality.

As @Brian said though, it's really about how a person accesses their apps. Staff in most companies don't care about sessions, desktops or VMs as long as they can access the apps they need to do their job (along with the data that goes with their apps). The session (or VM) is just a convenient aggregator for IT people to manage.


This got me testing RemoteApp and I can honestly say, RemoteApp is good enough alternative against XenApp.  The application hosts works for Server 2008r2, Vista, 7, 8 There is even a Windows XP patch support.microsoft.com/.../961742.  I started thinking about use case for my company.  This would be another alternative for those companies that will miss WinXP apocalipse.  I thought I share..  Thanks Gabe for writing and rekindling the idea in my mind.