When VMware announced their bare-metal hypervisor and vClient initiative, I wrote that I hoped Citrix would buy a company like Virtual Computer or Neocleus to compete in the space. Instead Citrix built a bare metal solution themselves, announcing "Project Independence" last week. My first reaction was that Project Independence would kill off Virtual Computer and Neocleus, and their nervousness was confirmed as both companies were among the first to post comments in response to our article about the project. (The only chance I thought they would have would be to be acquired by someone else--Microsoft perhaps?)
For Virtual Computer, rumors of their imminent death may have been premature. Today they announced they received another $15m in funding (on top of their initial $6m). What's most amazing is that Citrix is one of the investors!
Citrix even has a quote in the press release, although in typical Citrix style, the quote doesn't actually say anything about why they're giving Virtual Computer their money, and instead just talks about how awesome their own Project Independence is:
“We’ve been watching Virtual Computer since their company launch in September 2008,” said Andy Cohen, senior director, strategic development at Citrix Systems. “We see great synergy between their use of Xen technology for PC lifecycle management and Project Independence, our recently-announced initiative to dramatically change the economics of desktop computing by enabling devices, desktops, applications and people to operate more independently through the power of client-side Xen virtualization. We look forward to working with Virtual Computer in a mutually beneficial capacity and see our investment as the first step in that direction.”
What exactly is the great synergy that Citrix sees? Maybe Citrix invested just enough money to give them a vote in company decisions? (For example, if the Virtual Computer board was voting to sell the company to a competitor?)
I had a briefing with Virtual Computer last month. If there's one common theme they're trying to push, it's that they don't want to be in the client hypervisor business. Instead, they view themselves as a management company. They view their competition as agent-based management tools, like SMS and Altiris. Virtual Computer feels that every product out there keeps on adding "another agent," and their has to be a better way to handle everything. And that's where they come in. They turn Windows into a managed resource with no agents, by pulling the management out of Windows and going below it with the client hypervisor.
So maybe that's their story with Citrix? Citrix can handle the user personality and the application delivery into the client's instance of Windows, while Virtual Computer will handle the management of that instance?
Virtual Computer's product (called NxTop) is not actually out yet, although they expect it to be ready in a few months. It will cost $149 per seat for perpetual licenses, or $10 per month per seat for subscription-based licenses.