VMware buys CloudVolumes. Here's our full analysis.

Yesterday VMware announced that they acquired CloudVolumes for an undisclosed amount. Originally called SnapVolumes, CloudVolumes was founded in 2011 by Matt Conover, Shaun Coleman, and Matthieu Suiche.

Yesterday VMware announced that they acquired CloudVolumes for an undisclosed amount. Originally called SnapVolumes, CloudVolumes was founded in 2011 by Matt Conover, Shaun Coleman, and Matthieu Suiche, (and friend of the site Harry Labana joined them this past April after writing several blog posts on BrianMadden.com about them over the past two years).

CloudVolumes is a software company with a product in the Windows application delivery / containerization / "layering" space. Essentially they let you take a before and after snapshot of an application when you install it, and all the changes are written into a VMDK or VHD disk image that can be mounted (even when a user is logged in) to a machine. Once mounted, the CloudVolumes agent hooks the disk image into the disk chain and all the files, registry settings, services, etc. just sort of instantly "show up" in the target computer. (CloudVolumes puts their containers in VMDKs when used with VMs, and VHDs when used with physically-installed copies of Windows.

To be clear, CloudVolumes doesn't do any kind of isolation for "problem" apps like ThinApp or App-V, rather, their focus is on making different apps available within different VMs or while making them appear as if they've been locally-installed. They talk about wanted to make Windows application delivery, installation, and removal as simple as the way mobile apps work in iOS or Android.

Over the past few months, Harry's been referring to this as "disposable IT"—the concept that today's IT staff doesn't want to spend a lot of time troubleshooting static (i.e. "persistent") user environments, rather, they just want to hit a "refresh" button to put that environment back to a steady state and move on to better things.

This concept of course is not new. In fact it's the dream of "non-persistent" VDI that VMware's been pushing since 2006. That concept always sounded good in theory, but in practice it's been difficult to implement since all we really had was "shared base images" plus "app virtualization"—a combination which was unwieldily to manage and left a lot to be desired in the "compatibility" department. (Kevin Goodman explains it as "going through all the pain to virtualize all your apps with App-V or ThinApp just to get them to a point where you can install them on demand is like killing an ant with a sledgehammer.)

Several vendors offer solutions that are conceptually similar to CloudVolumes, including Unidesk, FSLogix, and Liquidware Labs.

Why VMware?

Ok, so now VMware owns CloudVolumes. Cool.

I want to dig into why this makes sense and what VMware plans to do with them, but first we should take a step back and look at where VMware is on their renewed path to EUC.

First, if you've heard VMware's Desktop GM Sumit Dhawan talk in the past few months, you would have heard him talk about customers' three-phase approach to the virtualizing the Windows desktop and Windows applications:

  1. The first phase is taking Windows desktop applications from the physical to datacenter.
  2. The second phases is about disaggregation and then re-aggregation, which is much more complex since there are some real roadblocks that exist in terms of costs and tradeoffs. (Just look at all the arguments about persistent versus non-persistent images, layering, etc.) 
  3. The third phase is about refining the user experience across devices, including things like transforming apps so they make sense on whatever form factor the user has at that moment, breaking apps into micro apps that only expose what the user needs, developing new mobile apps from existing desktop apps, etc.

Now let's map those three phases to what VMware is doing:

  1. VMware Horizon 6 added RDSH support, app publishing, and seamless Windows to VMware's Horizon portfolio.
  2. Yesterday's purchase of CloudVolumes is how VMware believes they'll be able to deliver usable images and apps that don't have the tradeoffs of Linked Clones + ThinApp.
  3. Stay tuned. (PowWow maybe? Others?)

Why didn't VMware just use Mirage?

I talked to Sumit Dhawan on the phone yesterday, and one of the questions I asked him was why VMware had to buy CloudVolumes. Couldn't they just use the layering that's part of Mirage?

Sumit told me that they initially looked at this, and that while the concept of the layers is similar in some ways between Mirage and CloudVolumes, the two products are actually quite different. Mirage was built for physical machines that are loosely connected which receive their layers via the network and the WAN, wheres CloudVolumes is built for always-connected clients which want to mount their layers from a fast reliable location.

I also asked Sumit about ThinApp and how it fits into this. He didn't have specifics to talk about, but its easy to infer that the ThinApp product (or at least bits of its technology) could fit nicely into what CloudVolumes could grow to be at VMware. (To be clear, ThinApp was about both isolating bad apps and providing a simple package that was easy to deploy to users. Obviously CloudVolumes handles the deployment part of what ThinApp did, but for the few apps that actually cause problems when installed next to other apps, it would be great if parts of the core ThinApp IP could be integrated into what CloudVolumes can deliver.)

What's the impact of this acquisition for the layering space?

Citing the way VMware dropped support for Citrix when they bought Desktone, Paul Stansel wrote on CitrixTips.com that he's worried VMware will make CloudVolumes a VMware-only solution. When I talked to Harry Labana on the phone yesterday, he mentioned that CloudVolumes can be very strategic to VMware and can be more than just a line-item feature in View, so it's certainly possible that Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop customers could buy it, (especially if they're running on vSphere), but overall I tend to agree that most likely this will end up being a VMware-only solution.

Paul also wrote "this may ultimately force Citrix to do is make something useful out of PVDs (Personal vDisks—technology they got from their RingCube acquisition). They promised for years that PVDs would be more flexible and roam with the users, but that promise has never been realized. PVDs are often complicated to support and one of the least mature technologies Citrix offers."

While I don't necessarily agree that PVDs are the same thing as CloudVolumes, I definitely agree that Citrix is (or certainly will now) try to position PVDs as their version of CloudVolumes. We should also keep in mind that there are other vendors who have similar solutions to CloudVolumes, (like the companies I mentioned before: FSLogix, Unidesk, and Liquidware Labs).

Actually, speaking of Liquidware Labs, I know I'm not the only one who believes this company was created for the sole purpose of being acquired by VMware, and they have to be kicking themselves again now, saying, "Seriously?? They bought those F-ing guys??" Fifty bucks says the next Liquidware product will be something to refine the Windows application user experience from mobile devices. :)

Seriously it will be interesting to see how Unidesk and Liquidware position themselves next week at VMworld as they'll both be there as sponsors. (Looks like Kevin Goodman made a fortuitous decision when he decided that FSLogix would not exhibit!)

Overall though this is a good move by VMware. Yeah, we're going to see Unidesk, FSLogix, and Liquidware talk about how their solution is better. Yeah, we're going to see Citrix try to position PVDs and/or buy one of these companies. But in the grand scheme of things, I like the concept of what these companies are doing. It fits well with my long term vision about Windows apps being around forever and many of them ultimately ending up in some datacenter with just the UIs being remoted. I might even go so far as to say that with these types of technologies, maybe something approaching a "non-persistent" disk image could work. (Not the true "non-persistent" of 2008, but something more like it.)

Congrats to VMware and CloudVolumes. Good move for both. And, frankly, congrats to Unidesk, FSLogix, and Liquidware who can now sell to 100,000 Citrix customers who will soon want this CloudVolumes-like thing too.

[Correction August 22: An earlier version of this article omitted the name of Matthieu Suiche in the list of CloudVolumes's founders.]

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I agree Brian that PVDs are different than CV today... I just was wishing they weren't :).  Thanks!


The CloudVolumes acquisition has no doubt validated the application layering space.

We’re actually better together with VMware now as ProfileUnity has always been, and will continue to be, focused on User Environment Management (UEM). FlexApp is only one of over two dozen features in ProfileUnity User Environment Management. UEM features have no real overlap with CloudVolumes technology but instead greatly complement it. Comprehensive UEM that includes trigger-based policy based actions, cross platform and OS profile delivery (VDI, RDSH, DaaS, Physical), Application Rights Management and customizable profile management, remains a challenge of every physical and virtual enterprise deployment of Windows.

Layering and UEM are two distinct different technologies that both need to be solved for most enterprises, not just VDI but Physical Windows deployments too.  Kit Colbert, CTO of VMware EUC, laid out enterprise Layering and UEM needs nicely in his Vision blog last quarter.  cto.vmware.com/bringing-vmware-airwatch-together


I definitely agree with Jason that ProfileUnity is LWL's primary focus.  It is certainly a lot better than Persona Mgmt., which doesn't support RDSH.

I think the Cloud Volumes acquisition has ramifications well beyond VMware's EUC offerings. Unlike Mirage, CV supports server and desktop workloads as well as Linked and full cloned VMs.  If they integrate this with vCenter Orchestrator and vCAC they will create the ability to self provision servers and desktops with specific applications while potentially reducing storage and administrative costs even more.

I was asking for Mirage support of server workloads at last year's VMworld but it got the impression that VMware's EUC and SDDC business units are highly silo'ed to the point that they don't seriously look at how these technologies can compliment each other.  I only hope that isn't the case with CV since it is already built to work across VMware's BUs.  


We'll be at Vmworld (Unidesk) and saying the same things we always have. Layering for Applications, the OS and personalization. Management all in one interface and one tech and extremely simple. This is YAC, yet another console/tech to deal with on the VMW side.

Besides:  VMWs history w/ integration of acquisitions (persona/RTO, Mirage, etc) always takes a year or more. Same thing here. Nothing changes in the market tomorrow.

Haven't I heard this beat/song before from VMW? Oh yeah, they play it every 2 years. Last time the song was "Mirage will cure all ills in VDI"





This is an interesting development but there is no track record by either VMWare or Citrix of taking such acquisitions and developing them into truly useful and mature solutions that realistically enhance deployments for customers. The concepts sound great and flexibility of a layered app in an editable volume is very promising. However, as we all know, the realities of app integration and user experience are much more complex than that in the wild


"but there is no track record by either VMWare or Citrix of taking such acquisitions and developing them into truly useful and mature solutions that realistically enhance deployments for customers. "

Spot on. And that is shame. It historically wasnt like that in the early days of either company. But now... once you get big and siloed acquisitions can become a series of "How do we do this without stepping on any existing toes or making anyone already here mad"

Which is very sad.



Lets not start a war in the comments of a blog.  Though it's hard to disagree with lack of VMW or Citrix expanding on products they acquire or in some cases even getting them integrated in a timely manner. its just history of their acquisitions in the EUC space. The example of Ringcube and Citrix is prime, RTO/Persona is a good example of lack of VMW timely integration.

As to CV vs Unidesk? Whatever. I've always said I'd put our layering up against anyone's layering. no more, no less. Comparing layering. So when someone says they do something better, I'm going to challenge it. On tech. On things that admins do every day. Thats all.

I'm a geek and look at things through a technical lens. Though, for 3 VMworlds in a row VMW has had EUC announcements with talking heads always saying "its the death of Unidesk... Persona, Wanova, layering..." now we're 800+ customers into it and a 4th VMorld in a row. I dont expect it to be any different or for what we do to change. It is what it is.


@rick glad I was able to introduce you to ProfileUnity before I left HP :)

I believe we are moving towards a “mobile workspace” and the acquisition of CloudVolumes is yet another page in the story of how we can enable IT leaders to change their direction and provide this next generation End User Computing, (EUC) solution. VMware’s vision of empowering customers with a platform to move into the mobile cloud era requires they build or acquire the components to make this a reality. Those of us who have been deploying EUC solutions at scale for some time know that we desperately need a UEM solution to bring this reality out of the land of make believe. I am certain that the VMware EUC team recognizes this as it has been mentioned as a critical path to success alongside layering and one we must address soon if we are to capitalize on the short comings of other solutions in the market. Promising value is expected...delivering on the value promised is exceptional. I strive to WOW our customers and using VMware’s Horizon with AirWatch along with Liquidware’s ProfileUnity allows our customers to realize the value promised as they change their strategic direction from delivering desktops to delivering the mobile workspace.


Umm, LWL is a POS and a shady bunch of people. Trust nothing they say or do. I don't know why anybody would buy them. As Brian says. "Fifty bucks says the next Liquidware product will be something to refine the Windows application user experience from mobile devices" --- desperate to sell. UEM is optional, not a requirement, it makes things much harder if you are not ready to adopt it.

I think layers technologies are immature. Unidesk and Moka 5 have the most mature layering tech, but Unidesk does not scale and a VDI only management solution. CloudVolumes/FSLogix are immature still and app focused. So not an apples to apples comparison, and lots of confusion about what a layer should be used for. It depends on use case.

Agree with Steve, they are only useful if they can be used. Layers tech has been getting better over the years, so I think a good move by VMware, congrats to CloudVolumes. However if VMware only offer this with Horizon View, it will be useless for so many and a disaster.


@appdetective LWL is not a Point of Sale manufacturer; although I have used their software  to provide some great controls over the users that automatically login to those POS environments. I understand that you believe UEM is optional, not a requirement, because you are not ready to adopt it. The fact remains that although “desktops use cases are here to stay for a long long time”, we cannot continue to manage them and the users that utilize these devices in the same manner we have for the past 20 years. A well-managed IT environment can be automated and therefore reduce the overall cost of technology. This well-managed IT environment includes users…yes users, those people we want to stop calling us or who ask for too much, and those that we just re-image their device, lose all their “stuff” as users refer to it. We stopped caring what they wanted because that was not a requirement and users will just do what we want because “we are IT”, right? This world is gone and those who hang on to it will be alone in the end still trying to tell people we can’t let <insert idea or technology that requires work> into our environment.

We should embrace our users and provide them well managed environment that is flexible and able to change as we continue to on this exponential growth within technology. Having been a long time follower of this space I realize this may be just adding fuel to the fire on a topic that has people with strong convictions on each side.  I have deployed these technologies at scale and seen the benefits realized. EUC requires well defined process to successfully provision, deliver and gain adoption by users to consume IT services. It is our job to foster innovation and never stop learning; therefore I fundamentally disagree with notion UEM is optional. If we choose not to manage this environment because it’s challenging to address all the problems we have created in our environments by allowing this to go unmanaged, we should give up, go be users and get out of IT.


Ha! Too funny @Brain - knowing @appdetective, I don't think he referring to Point Of Sale systems by POS. Google it; it has another meaning


@Dan familiar with the term and @appdetective. I am glad you got a laugh that was the intent. I have had a very different experience with LWL and don’t agree with his assessment of them as a product or a company. Agree with Brian that it will be interesting to see and hear the position of UEM vendors and VMWare around the topic.


i have read your thread - and from what i can tell there is not a computer scientist among you

- all business men

- all HUFF and PUFF about my kit is bigger/faster/better than your kit = and " i know this, and i've seen that" , and lets pretend what we say on a forum post is to be reverred with a shiny halo around it like gospel...

.....and its very cute that you all still slobber over windows....like a small retarded kitten playing with yarn or a laser pointer.

maybe this "ron" fellow - he seems smart to me and appears to say what he thinks - i went back and read all his posts over the past few years.

so is this a technical forum or rogue marketing platform?

        dont worry, i am from the internet, and i am here to help


@anonymouzpwn  did I say that out loud or is that what you posted? :)

+1 and yes, @Ron is smart, straightforward and a long time positive contributor to this community


@stevegreenberg - lolz - we are everywhere ;)

your work specifically interests me and us - i am on your blog(s) right now reading it.  i am finding this  useful and enjoyable and timely

Would it be off base to say you focus primarily on ctxs/msft based  solutions ?

I ask because there is a palpable sense the vmw is gaining momentum in the convergence of x86 with mobile ala this Airwatch platform- and albeit the back yard of ctxs there is a pervasive fear that ctxs bought the wrong mobile solution - and hence vmw will now have thier way with the market.

i diverge because in any honest discourse on layers would we not all have to agree that monolithic architectures - like windows - will not work moving forward - unless you want to save time managing the monolith - in that case plenty of toys to play with that do that - but to CHANGE that - each layer must be seperate, and on its own capable of both independent delivery and unified management regardless of os, device, locality, and immediate use case?

for this i suspect "docker" will change everything

for this i suspect simon crosby's bromium kit will make everyone say ........ohhhhhhh very soon

for this i am not sure any of the thread above really counts

                 dont worry, i am from the internet, and i am here to help


and "harry" has this totally correct - disposable IT is the term i understand he coined. exactly

is it not about the potentiality of combining resources to execute a task when needed - and NOT about resources sitting fallow waiting for a user.

how silly is that?

thank goodness electrons flutter below..what 20nms ...and very soon we will have to figure out how to contend with the death of dr. moores law. like peak oil. face it - its over

yes, yes i thnk he is correct



I do mainly consult in the area of Windows, VMWare, Citrix, Storage, etc, etc-- i.e. day job

Ultimately containerized OS and Virtualization approaches are clearly the best architecture for the future. I started presenting on this subject in 2008 at BriForum and introduced it to my practise, but it mostly fell on deaf ears.

I since came to conclusion that this is not a bad thing, that in fact, "good enough" is important for our economy. That is, if we started deploying the best technology from the beginning there would be a fraction of the jobs that exist today. Whole industries, such as x86 architectures and archaic storage methodologies wouldn't exist. As manufacturing jobs disappeared, something was needed to take their place.

The state of generic IT today is about sustaining our economy and society. Now if you want to talk computer science, ideal architectures, true and real cloud, I would be very interested. I probably won't be able to sell it to anyone yet, but that is okay!!


oh and @HarryLabana also an important contributor and voice in our world



while lots of us disagree on individual things around here (and in the overall community) to say the folks around here aren't technical... I probably wouldn't say that.

Now does some marketing stuff get fluffed into comments... Sure. But for the most part technical info and technical realities are supreme.


A couple of thoughts about the CloudVolumes acquisition:

Shaun Coleman is now back at VMware and reunited with Noah Wasmer.   Two of the best, IMO when it comes to knowing what the customers want now and are going to need in the future. Combined with Sumit Dhawan and it might just make Brian take everything back about VMware not caring about EUC.

Why doesn't View Persona support RSDH? Back in the RTO days its main purpose was XenApp. SMH.

Sorry to see Ron and Harry snipe at each other. Somebody should let them both know that the biggest threat is not each other -- it's business as usual. Throw enough FUD from either of them into the mix and the prospects will just delay their purchase and maybe decide to buy another round of desktop PC's. Kinda reminds me of the Harry/Jason Smith flame wars -- now that was entertaining.

AppDetective states that FSLogix is app-focused -- as if that is a bad thing. There are two parts of application virtualization: delivery of the application and application isolation. CloudVolumes/Layering/FlexApp do a better job at solving the delivery than App-V; FSLogix solves the isolation. You're not going to solve Single Image Management without solving isolation.

BTW, I work for FSLogix.



@BrianRoets I don't disagree with the Nirvana you are painting. I'm disagreeing that UEM solutions of today are required to get there. I can achieve many of the benefits you talk about with better automation  and scripts. UEM vendors need to offer a broader cross platform value. This is why I don't agree with the popular opinion that AppSense focusing only on Desktop is a good thing. UEM solutions like AppSense are very expensive and complex to support. Crap solutions like LWL don't offer enough power to bother, but may be ok for some environments that need just the basics at a very low cost. So better management of user environments does not require expensive/complex/low capability environments unless you want to work in a particular way and make a bet on a management model. Hence not a requirement to use a UEM tool, but better user management is.

@Ron blog here blog.unidesk.com/is-cloudvolumes-an-alternative-to-unidesk-layering basically says VMware sucks and so does CloudVolumes. I say here again,  Layers/containers depends on ucase. Mature vs. immature approaches.

@Kevin I'm not saying apps are a bad thing. I've actually tweeted with Gartners @mlockwood that things are confusing and layering like cloud is overused and it all comes down to ucases.

"@_mlockwood Unidesk/Moka 5 room to improve CloudVolumes/FSlogix immature IMO. Different use cases as well, hence layers confusing."

Also @Kevin, what isolation do you really provide? You are an image of apps that hides things based on policy. How is that isolation vs. app virtualization? FUD huh… :-)


@Ron come by the VMware booth and understand our technology better before making assumptions; absolutely its all about the technology, come by and see how we are different.

Note "maturity" is relative. We've been laser focused over the last 3.5 years on large enterprise use cases and customers, not the SMB space therefore it took us a little while to get there and its why we don’t have 800+ SMBs using our product.  

BTW there is a reason we bought Ringcube when I was at Citrix for UIA and not Unidesk which adds complexity and does not eliminate it...

@appdetective totally agree on the use cases we've never believed layers were an end-all solution to desktop issues (or server, don't forget we can do server..); just the most important and significant ones related to apps :)



Hey mister "appdictective"

please publish this magic combination of reference archtiecture and commercial deployment you must be squatting on where you have figured it all out - you sound just shy of brilliant - wow

and not just this layering feature (yes, feature) - you seem to have all of this nailed - so we are all eager to see it.

ohhhh - you will say it depends on use case. Right.

i went back to 2009 and read all your comments on this form

sounds to me like you work in a cubicle at a big bank and therefore must suffer an amazing lack of power in the real world. we are all sorry for that...and that is why so many seem to bow down to your wizdum

it must be refreshing that you get a microphone here.

Let me school you for one second. Everything depends on specific use case. Of all the brands you love and hate on this forum (all of you_), there are companies, and users that both love and hate them too. So there is nothing unique or useful in what you share.

I was in a coffee shop yesterday - and they took my order with a Pen and Paper - can you believe that? so archaic. please pound the walls of your cubicle and tell them how wrong they are.


we are from the internet, and we are here to help



Sorry to hijack this thread, but I can't let @appdetective 's incorrect accusation just sit there.

The isolation that FSLogix provides is Runtime Isolation. Which means that disparate applications can live in the same image and FSLogix isolates at execution time. For example, in the legal community applications such as 7-zip are not compatible with Office add-ins such as WorkShare. If 7-zip is part of your base image then just attaching (or streaming or whatever you want to call delivery of an application such as Office) doesn't work. Even moreso in the Citrix/RDSH environment where global items such as printers need to be made per-user (the Adobe Acrobat vs. Reader use case). Or fonts. Or versions of Java or apps that have boot time device drivers and so on. That's how FSLogix is different than app virt.


As an engineer that has to implement designs, I have yet to have a layering/packaging package truly work as intended for all the applications.  Between cross linking of resources and core corruption of layers none really have worked well.  I have seen management and sales people tout how awesome it is, but in the thousands of deployments I have done it usually withers after deployment.  Now this may be different, I have not seen how well cloudvolumes apps interact with other products.  Will it require modeling cross-linked applications?  The primary design that still stands strong.  "Desktop" image loaded with majority of all apps owned by the enterprise, then RDS or XenApp style deployment of the onesie twosie siloed packages.


@Kevin, not trying to attack you, calm down. :-) Just not convinced that you do isolation. I.E. Run side by side conflicting versions of app in your image I don't think is possible which is what App virt does. I understand the separation via policy of only allowing certain components to run. So to be clear, I'm not saying it is a bad thing. I am just not sure I'd call it isolation, feels more like app execution policy conflict resolution at run time, but no marketing folks will ever use that! :-)

@anonymouzpwn. If only I had power and all the answers for perfect and not just options on what' s f'ed up with today's solutions and vendor marketing. Just too busy looking at your sister on the internet. But seriously, I don't have all the answers, and actually admire all the people trying to find them. My passion is implementation success in the real world.

@stucco you sound like an old school IT guy protecting the old way of doing things with that comment, however a lot of truth in what you say. I just hope that's not our future and hope better solutions mature faster for the enterprise. I.E Go Unidesk, Citrix I expect will now buy them.


I did get a chance to chat with the Cloudvolumes guys out at vmworld.  There take is far different than many of the other isolation groups.  I will be interested to see what it looks like in release, along with if VMWare allows them to keep Citrix, and physical support.  But again, I won't be touting any product, until I can test it, and use it successfully.  One tidbit I did get, if you have two apps that don't play well together, they will continue to not play well together in separate appstacks.  However, an appstack can be used to deploy app-v.  So you can do isolation on top of the stacks, so that looks usable.  One component I was a fan of was the personal stack, sort of Personal vDisk, but it actually works.  Again, once this is GA I will be investigating it further.