VMware Project "Origami:" unifying the server, desktop, and SaaS app models?

For years we've been talking about how IT is really just about the applications, and how today's business world is about Windows applications. Of course now that's changing.

For years we've been talking about how IT is really just about the applications, and how today's business world is about Windows applications. Of course now that's changing. We're not moving to the web/cloud/SaaS overnight, but we're definitely seeing real companies use web and SaaS apps in real ways. The emergence of these new app architectures means that IT organizations are stuck between two worlds—they must deliver and support both Windows and web apps. Windows apps are easy—we have Terminal Server, XenApp, streaming, and VDI to take care of that for us. But how do we manage web apps? Do we publish remote web browsers? Do we put links in our web portals? Do we integrate Citrix XenApp with SharePoint?

Clearly VMware is involved in this struggle too. On the one hand they have View, ThinApp, and a lot of marketing around how to deliver Windows apps and desktops. On the other hand they have the cloud, SaaS, Zimbra, and SpringSource. One represents the "old," and the other represents the "new." While VMware would probably love to forget the old (since the old is Microsoft and the old is View), they can't just turn their backs on it.

If only there were some way to combine the "old" and "new" ways of enterprise application delivery...

VMware looks to solve that with something known as "Origami," which I assume they'll announce at the VMworld conference in San Francisco next week.

The origins of Origami

I had several interesting conversations about VMware's long-term application strategy at BriForum this past June. Several people mentioned something called "Origami," but I couldn't really find anything about it other than a job posting on vmware.com for an "Origami UI/App Integration Job" back in July. Honestly I kind of forgot about it until today, when I started writing my preview article for VMworld.

I decided to do a Google search for [vmware origami] to see whether I could learn anything else about it. On the first page of results I found a presentation from an event called "Virtual Days" in Florence last month. (The presentation, called "Virtualization: Leading the Journey to Cloud Computing," by VMware Solution Architect Stefano Sella is available as a PDF or in HTML mode from the Google cache.) The title page says "confidential," but since I found it via a public Google search I think it's okay to talk about it here.

Digging in to VMware Origami

Once the presentation moves beyond the standard View / ThinApp stuff, at Slide 48 it starts talking about "Origami Administration." We see a web-based admin console with a user account, policies, and a list of "entitled applications." What's interesting about the entitled apps is that we see server apps (Zimbra, file shares), desktop apps (Office, Firefox, Acrobat), and SaaS apps (Salesforce, QuickenOnline, Workday). So the Origami Administrator finally bridges the gap to connect users to desktop, server, and web apps—all in a single place. It even looks like the Origami interface can be used to perform most (or all?) user admin tasks, like creating new users, adding roles, etc.

The presentation goes on to show the end-user interface via an what VMware's calling an "application catalog." In a lot of ways this looks similar to any web portal / dashboard / Citrix Web Interface, with lists of apps that are presented from all three (server, desktop, and SaaS) sources, as well as capabilities for users to request new apps.

I assume that the Origami product will hook into AD, View, ThinApp, Zimbra, and all of the other application systems that VMware has to deliver this unified portal to users. It will be interesting to see how it integrates into the web apps, like whether it can hook into an single sign-on or user provisioning, or whether it just delivers URLs to users (which has been possible with Citrix Web Interface, Microsoft SharePoint, and just about any other web portal for years).

What do you think about Origami? Will this take some of the pressure off VMware to release a kick-ass View update? What will Origami need to have to really take off? Is this somewhere where VMware can succeed?

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This looks pretty cool - definitely check out the PDF instead of the HTML if you can.

I wonder if there will be something to integrate RDS into the mix. They can't ignore it forever, especially without that enigmatic "kick-ass View update."


Same music as from Microsoft... A cool project name, some basic ideas on which everybody will agree (single central admin fro everything), a single vendor...

Just remind me Ka the snake in the Jungle Book (watched it again last week with my chldren) :

Trust in me, just in me

Shut your eyes and trust in me

You can sleep safe and sound

Knowing I am around



Just Wow.

Best. Analogy. Ever. Way to go, Kata!



Just another web portal with some "posh" admin features at first glance. I'll wait until release or more details before supporting or condemning it but it's hardly revolutionary and Kata is right, "Same music as from MS".

VMware need to embrace RDS/TS!

I would of thought most corporates will be wanting SharePoint integration (Quest, Citrix, etc).



Oh and in terms of publishing content, internal/external, hosted apps, local apps, URLs, RDS,  etc...

Quest and Citrix can do that now.

Am I to hungover and is it to early in the morning or am I missing the point? :)


And to add... (last one for now honest)..

What organizations really need out of these "portals" is a decent set of API's/feeds/web parts, that we can use to integrate with our own systems.

That puts some of the pressure off the portal vendor to integrate with every other 3rd party system.



This is likely the same as a presentation that a friend of mine shared with me that VMware did at Burton's Catalyst a few weeks ago. The way it was described to me was that this Italian dude get's on stage talks about his how his nice grandma uses the cloud today with facebook etc and that's how tomorrow will look. Talk in the powerpoint about AD integration a portal for SaaS and Windows apps. All vision some of it cool, no substance. I agree with other's this is just like what MS is saying in their leaked documents and really to me just an extension of Citrix Dazzle offers today. It's really just the application store concept which is very very early and has a ways to go. That said it's good to hear them talking about it.

It's a fine strategy to try to redefine the future desktop when you don't understand the current.... That's the trouble with VMware, so much BS around cloud (I am sure we will hear plenty more) but it does wonders for their stock price which is in the clouds right now. If they focused on real desktop problems AKA things we do today and in the next 3 years they would have more credibility beyond the tiny pilots they claim market share on based on the success on ESX locking people into the hypervisor.

When will people wake up and understand that VMware is not a desktop company? This is all marketing BS to get you to THEIR ONLY cloud. If that what the analysts believe that the future of the cloud is and hence they are driving up the stock price then they are as stupid and naive as everybody who has fallen for ESX worked in the data center so View must work on the desktop! IDIOTS!


How are they aloud to get away with some of this f*****g crud!

I've just looked at the whole slide show!!!

Why isn't anyone suing VMware for false advertising or just being bad a slides?

Slide 32 made me crunch up a paper cup! - it was empty though :)

other slides are just as bad "Complete Virtualization Platform For Your Apps"!!! complete!!! really?

I've never wanted MS to succeed to much

Anyway - I digress.


The slides are quite boring. Except for the three slides about SpringSource.

SpringSource is the main weapon for VMware to compete against Microsoft. Because .NET and Java are the two main enterprise application platforms for newly developed applications. But this fight over Enterprise Application Server market share is a futile one for VMware IMHO. SpringSource has a mere 150 employees and they would have to expand SpringSource rapidly in order to execute their vision of becoming the leading Java EAS vendor. And the Java EAS space is already extremely crowded if not saturated. So taking away EAS market share from Oracle, IBM, RedHat and Microsoft will be extremely difficult for VMware.

The only chance to take on Microsoft is a fully commited Goo-VM-Force Alliance. But I haven't seen that one come to life yet. I think this Goo-VM-force alliance is another one of those VMware projects that only exists on powerpoint slides.


Here's a good primer on Goo-VM-force that I just found: stage.vambenepe.com/.../1496


Does anyone ever wake up and think

Google Apps


Drop Box


Receiver [Origami]


SSO Cloud Authentication




Done ?

Occam's Razor echos.

OS ?  yeah, but isnt an OS really just a "badly debugged series of device drivers" ?


Ok t.rex, I'll agree with your principle 100%. But for the near term (5-10 years), we need windows apps to be at least part of that, so we have to deal with this VDI/TS/Streaming whatever for awhile.

Also, I love the bit about the OS being just the drivers. But what's the alternative? You need something on the device to integrate the apps (even RIA/future/web/HTML5/whatever) with the multitouch screen, local GPU, accelerometer, camera, fingerprint reader, etc.... how does GooVMforce do that? (Oh wait.. with chromium! An OS.... d'oh!)


There are obvious similarities between Origami as shown in the.ppt and Citrix Dazzle, but to make any sense it you really need to go back to  slides 38 to 41 which with their talk about managing desktop environments simply and efficiently are only slightly veiled references to the ability to entitle not just desktop applications but also Web (cloud) apps as well.

For this to mean anything at all "origami"must be more than just a pretty administrative user interface that can assign applications to users but must also comprise off all the necessary workflow automation tools to integrate user account configuration well beyond the reach of active directory, as well as niceties like password management administration and (I would expect) and single sign-on capabilities as well.

So far we haven't seen him in anything and from VMware in the this arena, and given the a visible emphasis placed on origami (one job posting for a UI development intern) it is unlikely to be a high priority activity.

But the  fun bit that you missed was the description of origami in the job description

"In this position the candidate will be building specific UI and/or 3rd party app integration modules for an upcoming cloud-based SMB offering from VMware."


@brianmadden - i am not sure, either the EDGE deals with the "devices" and that "os" handles HAL, or, alternatively, the plumbing behind the scenes is some amorphous soup omni-aware of all possible needs of the edge. Hmmm....i think the edge wins. Not sure though. I mean, the perfect edge device has touch, speech, vision, sound, etc tightly coupled to its run state, and yet, is able to pass across/over to the app layer input/output in a native way all apps "get".  1000% agree though that the movie has a lot left to play out, and while we might be seated in the theatre, the trailers havent even started. In fact, we are probably watching the TRIVIA questions they post (just remember, the answer to most of them is "Mathew Perry") lol

Anyone have a link to the PPT referenced in this thread?  Sure we will see it in a few days - might be nice for question PREP to have a looksy :)


There's a link to a PDF of the powerpoint in the article in the section under "The origins of origami."


@All Curious to hear from those that attended the BriForum session that the VMware desktop CTO Scott Davis hosted, was that any different to the Origami message? That session seemed to have also met with a collective yawn from what I could tell from the twitter stream.


100% agree with Simon.

Only if Origami turns out to be a complete PaaS offering (including all of those platform services that Simon mentions and a couple more), will VMware be able to compete in the cloud. VMware's revenue from it's current IaaS offering will leave them with ever diminishing earnings.

VMware needs to move up the stack!

@Brian & @t.rex: The OS will not go away exactly for the reasons you mentioned, integrating the the 'services' on the EDGE device (I really like that term) takes some piece of software that has privileged access to the EDGE device's HW chips (voice, vision, touch, I/O ...). And the EDGE device will likely stay an amalgam of chips from different vendors. So the chips need to be integrated by software.

Is there any EDGE device out there today that doesn't run an OS? (I can't think of any. SatNav, Phones, Musicplayers - they all run some sort of OS today)

On the server side, PaaS and the Cloud will eventually become the new OS.

Here's another good read on the the battle of Cloud Frameworks from William Vambenepe:



I can't help it, the project name is just too much fun.

Origami: The art of taking a square piece of paper and folding it to make an interesting object.

Sounds like VMware far more than they might like.

In either case if you take the end product (View, vCloud) and unfold it and look at all the corners, you get back to the same basic building block.

In either case you get something that looks like the solution you wanted, but is not the real thing.

Luckily VMware is REALLY good at building the BEST piece of paper to fold into other things, so they can keep selling that. Until they realize that paper is not that uncommon anymore.

Not that my analogy tops Kata's, but it sure is fun.