Last March, we learned that Symantec’s Workspace Profiles product was an OEM / rebranded edition of RTO Software’s Virtual Profiles. Then in September, we learned that VMware also signed an agreement with RTO Software for their Virtual Profiles product.
Although VMware has yet to sell any products with RTO’s technology, Symantec has been selling “Workspace Profiles” (which is basically RTO Virtual Profiles painted yellow) for over six months now.
But apparently that’s just changed. Yesterday I got an email from a reader who said that his Symantec Channel Rep told him that Symantec was no longer able to sell Workspace Profiles. I hadn’t heard that, although I did notice that “Workspace Profiles” is no longer included in any of the Symantec.com web pages about their Endpoint Virtualization Suite. (And it definitely used to be.)
But now it seems like the section previously known as “Profile Virtualization” has been replaced with “Data-on-Demand.” (Interestingly if you click through the “All Products A-Z” link on Symantec.com you can still find a page for Workspace Profiles--it’s just not mentioned on the Suite Page.) And Symantec Workspace Profiles is just randomly missing from the Symantec Enterprise Virtualization downloads page (which has apparently been the case for a few weeks).
I emailed my PR contacts at Symantec to ask them why this product is suddenly missing, but I never heard back.
Why would Symantec suddenly stop selling Workspace Profiles?
I can’t imagine why Symantec would suddenly stop selling the Workspace Profiles product and why they’d be so secret about it. The deal was less than a year old, so it’s not like it expired on its own, and every Symantec employee I’ve talked to over the past year or so has had nothing but good things to say about RTO and the Workspace Profiles product.
So that leads me to wonder whether this was something external? I asked a several people about RTO in general, and the buzz was more about RTO and VMware than RTO and Symantec. Is Symantec’s pulling of Workspace Profiles because VMware is acquiring RTO? I asked my PR contact at VMware for comment, but she just said that VMware doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. (“Ah-hah! So you’re admitting there’s a rumor?” ;) I also talked to RTO founder and friend of BrianMadden.com Kevin Goodman about this too, but just he said I needed to ask Symantec or VMware. :(
Think of the awesome ways that RTO could help VMware’s desktop strategy
So instead of wasting more time trying to figure out what's going on, let's just tease out the possibility that VMware is planning to acquire RTO Software. Obviously being acquired by VMware would be great for RTO, but the real potential of this deal goes way beyond “Profile Management” per se.
When RTO Software was our Random Vendor of the Week on Brian Madden TV last May, developer Eric Tatum showed us some new functionality where the Virtual Profiles product could be used to manage and sync files outside of a user’s profile folder. That’s what ultimately led me to make the prediction from last week’s Brian Madden TV about 2010 Trends where I said that VMware has to get beyond this whole concept of copying and replicating entire VM disk images.
That’s the problem with VMware View’s experimental offline mode right now. When the user clicks a button to take his or her VM offline, View then copies the entire disk image (or disk image delta file) down to the user's workstation. But since that’s happening at the virtual hardware level--below Windows and below the file system--90%+ of the blocks that make up that disk delta file are completely worthless and do nothing but increase the sync time.
To further understand this, think about what happens if you just boot up Windows, make one little change to a text file, and then shut down Windows again. From a user perspective, you only need to change a few bytes of data in your text file. But how many blocks on the virtual disk actually change? Probably hundreds of megabytes by the time you look at time stamps and temp folders and the page file and all the other stuff that Windows writes to the disk as it’s used.
So VMware’s current Offline VDI concept is this “dumb” mode where it would have to replicate lots of megabytes to the client in order to transfer down the 1k file change. But if VMware owned RTO Software, and if Eric Tatum & Company could rebuild VMware’s offline syncing to happen “in band” (like “inside of Windows”) at the file (or part of file) level, then VMware would end up with a pretty bad-ass solution!
If done right, a user wouldn’t ever have to “check in” or “check out” a VM. The user’s data would just keep syncing in real-time (like with Dropbox or Live Mesh), so prepping the VM for offline use would be a simple as logging out and logging in to another location. (Or maybe VMware could combine live migration & LufLogix to just make this “flow” from device to device?)
So (1) I hope that it’s true that VMware will acquire RTO, and (2) I hope that VMware has the vision to leverage RTO in this new cool way for offline sync instead of just limiting them to user profile management.
Worst case, I guess this gives me a question to ask Scott Davis on Thursday!