On Monday VMware's CTO of end user computing (née "desktop") Scott Davis blogged about VMware's end user computing strategy with regards to the cloud.
Late last year I wrote that Terminal Server would be huge again in a future non-WIndows web app-loving world for the simple reason that while business users will need Windows apps for years to come, they very soon won't need a Windows desktop. The iPad/Android/Mac/Local OS/web/whatever is a fine device manager, and really users only need a simple way to access the increasingly "old school" Windows apps. (Fun related article: Is Windows in danger of becoming the "XP Mode" of the cloud?)
This is where a Terminal Server delivering seamless Windows apps to any client is perfect. Citrix knows that. Microsoft knows that. Quest knows that. It seems like everyone knows that except for VMware.
Of course calls for VMware to enter the Terminal Server space are not new. I blogged about that way back in 2007 (before they bought Thinstall). But while that article was more about VMware competing against Citrix, today's reason for digging up this old argument is centered around VMware's strategy for extending their end user computing into the cloud.
In his blog post, Scott wrote about " the new world of heterogeneous devices, their disparate operating systems and application platforms. It’s clearly no longer a Windows-only world."
He talked about how individual SaaS applications are islands and something like VMware Horizon is needed to stitch them all together (which I agree with -- Horizon is sweet!) "side by side with the universe of Windows Client/Server applications that will be critical for many years to come even as they gradually recede in importance." He also talks about how VMware will be expanding the types of devices they support and gave examples of VMware MVP and how it can support side-by-side instances of Android.
I agree 100% with what Scott is saying in terms of where things are going. But what I don't get is how VMware's products actually tie back to this?
Scott talks about how View and ThinApp deliver Windows and Windows apps as a service. But they both have major limitations.
The problem with VMware View is it delivers the entire Windows desktop, complete with its own task bar, Start button, desktop wallpaper, desktop icons, and Alt-Tab list of apps. If you're using that from a thin client where you're "replacing" your local desktop with the remote desktop, fine. But for your iPad/Android/whatever, I mean come on. That's the Windows desktop as a service. But those kinds of users don't need a desktop -- they already have one! They just need their apps. (And in fact the "second" desktop from View is actually more confusing and less convenient.) Why wouldn't VMware add a solution that just delivers the single applications in a well-integrated way into all these non-Windows desktop clients?
Of course some would say (Scott included) that ThinApp is the "Windows apps as a service" offering. True. Except ThinApp applications require a Windows desktop OS to run. So you can't use ThinApp to just pop an application into your iPad or MVP Android. Yeah, you can offer them to non-Windows clients by combining your ThinApps into a View VDI desktop, but then you're back to the same problem where using that View desktop is an entirely new and separate desktop than your local device's desktop. So until VMware can deliver ThinApps to non-Windows platforms, this is another thing about VMware's end user computing strategy that doesn't make sense? (We tried this four years ago with limited success, although startup Deskstream seems to have gotten it working.)
So where's that leave us? I think for VMware it's more of the same. A lot of talk, but products that don't exactly align to the vision that they're talking about. Unless I'm missing something?