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.