In VMware's future, will ALL desktops be managed?

I was thinking more about this whole "Thinstall thing" last night... In my analysis of VMware's purchase of Thinstall, I made a big point about how VMware is moving up the value chain into the application space.

I was thinking more about this whole "Thinstall thing" last night... In my analysis of VMware's purchase of Thinstall, I made a big point about how VMware is moving up the value chain into the application space. Thinstall's application virtualization is a key piece of that and will allow single VMware-powered Windows virtual disk images to be more powerful since they could come "pre-packaged" with applications (via both remote desktops via VDI and locally-executed desktops via ACE).

That got me thinking about whether VMware needs to do more in the application space, especially given the fact that competitors like Citrix are more application-oriented than VMware, both in terms of products and marketing messaging.

Thinstall is a great solution for packaging applications in a desktop instance that's managed and delivered by VMware. But what about providing access to single applications from NON-managed client devices? This is where traditional terminal server-based SBC solutions like Citrix Presentation Server shine. Citrix has an even stronger case when you combine Presentation Server with a Citrix Access Gateway with Advanced Access Control, because they can then analyze the client device to figure out how secure it is and how much they trust running an application on it.

So this is a weakness in VMware's application delivery strategy. (Well, if they have an "application delivery" strategy per se.) It's a weakness that VMware cannot deliver a single application to a existing unmanaged desktop.

But then I wondered... In the future, will there be such thing as an unmanaged desktop? Of course users will always connect from a whos-knows-what device from home. But unlike Citrix who tries to analyze and study that device to see if it's trustworthy, why couldn't VMware just always trust nothing, and always push out a corporate locked-down and controlled VM that has all the applications that are needed?

Of course this makes a lot of assumptions about future disk streaming technologies and available bandwidth and computing power of the client. But if you were VMware today, would you buy a traditional terminal server-based SBC company, or focus on just pushing out corporate locked-down VMs everywhere?

Remember from the article I wrote almost a year ago that Parallels (and now VMware) both have technology that can "hide" the Windows desktop on a locally-running VM, essentially providing a "seamless windows" experience for the user. So if VMware can get a disk image down to the device, they can provide a seamless application experience to the user. And this could work regardless of what piece-of-crap-virus-infected-cheap-junk client that was used, just like terminal server-based SBC works today.

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I think VWware is going to focus more on using Thinstall as the mechanism to control apps on VDI images, than using Thinstall to send apps down to run on the end user device. As you point out, if VDI can eventually be extended out to run from the client device, then the need to extend Thinstall apps out to run from the client device is negated.

I don't understand the great need for Thinstall in the context of managed desktops. If the desktops are managed, and properly and thoroughly prepared by IT then they should be able to run the users' applications without the need for any application virtualization. And even if some sort of app virtualization is required, for example because of application conflicts (which are not that common for the applications used by one specific user), because the desktop is managed a solution like SoftGrid is much more appropriate than Thinstall.

I believe VMware will continue to sell Thinstall primarily for the same purpose it has been sold so far: as a means to run an application on an unmanaged desktop without installing it. As such it is complementary to ACE - ACE lets you take an entire desktop with you and Thinstall lets you take one specific application. And what's wrong with that? I assume VMware, with its channel, can sell a lot of copies of Thinstall for just this purpose.


I think this is utter crap. That VDI *** just wont happen any time soon, if ever.
Streamed apps to "fat" clients sure! Over the WAN or Internet? Not likely before the bandwidth problem has been taken care of - say shitfar in the future. As of ThinStall, Citrix ***, and that former Altiris (now symantec) *** could only be useful If the manual is printed on soft paper so I can wipe my shitty ass with it.

So, why don't you tell us what you really think?
... for VMware to acquire Provision Networks out of Quest?  Or if Quest is not willing to let go, partner or OEM.  Brian is right.  VMware still lacks the right technology to compete effectively with Citrix.
Hmmmm, maybe I should tell that to one of my clients who currently has 1000 VDI desktops and is looking to double it.  Tis a fad I'll tell them.  Guest on said so. ;)

@Shawn Bass
Well the world population is some 6.7 billlion right now so 1000 VDI desktops is like a waterdrop in the ocean. Certainly there will be some percentage that will adopt to VDI, either of their own stupidy and/or of their consultant. Anyway, I made my point clear and will not participate in further pollution of the comments



Just to put in my 2 cents worth.  I agree VMWare can not currently compete with some of the solutions Citrix has.  But in saying that, when I spec up solutions I do not just say I will go with Citrix because they have a whole gammet of products, nor would I do the same with Microsoft or VMware.  I would choose what I consider to be the most suitable solution for that client and it will be a mixture.

 It is quite interesting at the moment as Microsoft have Terminal Services, Hyper V and softgrid.  Albeit Hyper V is still in its RC stages but it is coming.

 Citrix has Presentation Server, Xensource, its app streaming and a VDI broker really making it the most entire suite out there.  In conjunction with CAG and AAC it is quite formidable.

 Then VMware with its VI3, VDI broker which is coming soon (i know its rebaged), now Thinstall, and ACE it brings to the table something Citrix can not, and that is a desktop that will work on any machine and it is portable and secure.

 MS, Citrix and VMware all bring something different to the table to basically fix problems that have not been able to be easily resolved in the past.  I honestly can not wait for the next 2 years because I can see massive growth in virtualisation and the three companies I mentioned will be the catalyst for new and exciting technologies.

Nail... head.... hit!


Have you looked/heard/tried VirtualBox?  They bring that Coherence/Unity visual hack from VMWare and Parallels to Windows.  See here: 


3 major player, 3 almost complete offer... 1 market...

Like for Pepsi/Cocal or KFC/McDonald, they will share the market and you will do your shopping in the one that suit your current need. 


I'm a non-techncial layman but isn't the biggest problem with VDI the amount of server hardware required to deploy a solution in relation to Citrix PS?

Is this the case or are my wires crossed? Yes, hardware prices are falling but datacenter and power prices aren't.


Brian, why can't VMware just push out locked down OSes to everyone?  I know that you are not missing the point of AAC and Sense/Respond.  There are situations when users should be able to print to client printers, or share files between end points and terminal servers.  Or when users shouldn't be allowed to access applications/file shares with sensitive information (such as at an airport kiosk instead of their corporate office). 


I'd be interested in hearing more on this from Shawn or others.  I what are the scenarios that people are most commonly using VDI for today.  I'm guessing one place would be where Citrix desktops are the primary or only workspace for users.  I would speculate that a large portion of Citrix installations today are serving up published apps only.  In these environments some apps are local and some are published.  It seems like a hard sell to introduce VDI into these environments.

Also, how locked down is the typical vdi solution?  Is it as locked down as the typical citrix desktop?  The restrictiveness of a citrix desktop is another reason some companies prefer to have the option to run some apps local.

There is a lot of hype around this technology, but I am wondering if it is worth ramping up on or not.  Right now, I am still skeptical.

Addresses mcuh of what is being discussed here. Not perfect, but far ahead if you really understand what they are doing. Watch them over the next year

Yes, especially if you use x64 the scalability of VDI is far inferior to TS/Citrix PS.

With 32-bit, there's a smaller scalability difference but TS/Citrix PS is still better in general.

VDI also has a lot more moving parts than TS/Citrix PS.  With TS/Citrix PS you enable a virtual desktop (published desktop) with about 8 clicks.  With VDI, it's much much more difficult, though still useful for certain scenarios like when an app doesn't work on TS/Citrix PS.

 VDI protocols aren't there yet.  RDP blows unless you're on a LAN or really, really good WAN.  ICA with TS/Citrix PS is the best by far.  With XenDesktop, Citrix brings end-to-end ICA to VDI which will differentiate them from VMware.


As an SE for a large systems integrator in NYC I can tell you that some of the largest firms (not just financial firms) in the world are virtualizing the desktop (VDI) in record volumes. The estimate of 1000 VDI desktops is low, I have clients with 10,000, 30,000, & one large client rolling out close to 80,000 hosted desktops (they have 16,000 so far) & they are all using thin-clients in these cases. Some are on VMWare and others are testing/moving to XenServer/XenDesktop.

 Just wanted to pass along some feedback from 'real world' experience.


I'm using Thinstall Technology since a year and that's a fabulous product !
But, Vmware has from my point of view two choices :

. Creating a Business Unit dedicated to Application Virtualization
. Integrating Thinstall Technology as an add-on for his Vmware usual products....

Thinstall is not VDI oriented. that's a nice alternative to Softgrid (MS)
You can for example create a package of Office 2007 and use it directly from a USB Key with no installation on your PC and..... in user mode !!!

i'm a little anxious to know what will be the next step with Vmware....

Who Knows ????



Jerome - not sure what you mean by 'Thinstall is not VDI oriented'? Can you share your thoughts/experiences around this?

We presently use ThinInstall exactly in our VDI deployment - thin-clients conneting to VM's that get a streamed standard OS and apps get delivered via Thininstall. So far we have @3000 VDI/hosted desktops in this manner and continue to grow.

I believe it is inevitable that VMWare will need develop/aquire an OS streaming solution to compete with Citrix & picking up Thininstall is clearly the first step.

Just my 2 pennies.. I agree re: ICA is end-to-end better but many company's are strarting to further enhance RDP to get over some of these ICA vs RDP difference.. something to keep in mind when your exploring VDI options. I saw a real cool RDP demo where they were accessing multimedia & usb peripherals in a VDI session and granted, it was on a LAN but they didn't need to buy Citrix to make this happen...

I think the point is that Thinstall shines in unmanaged desktop environments. Thinstall's advantage is its ability to virtualize applications without the need to have a special driver pre-installed. In a managed environment, where pre-installing such a driver should not be a problem, Thinstall does not have an advantage. In fact, in such environments solutions that do utilize a driver. e.g. SoftGrid, have the advantage because they should be more preformant and robust.


Guys be realistic. VDI is not 100% cool. It is like in or outsourcing. Some companies will go for it, others wont.

Virtual applications is possible with even free products. Who knows, it might even be that way that virtual apps will be delivered by the manufactorers in a couple of year. until then..

and VMware ACE sucks, sorry to say.