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Microsoft and Others Vying for Desktop Virtualization


Four public companies are working to capitalize on the future of technology.


VMware nearly has the complete DV stack (it's missing TS). The company has a pervasive server farm platform (vSphere), and View is a capable player in the VDI race. VMware has recently started pushing AS (ThinApp), as interest in this form of virtualization is accelerating.

VMware's strategy is to sell View to the vSphere faithful, of which there are many. In my opinion, VMware privately sees View as just another mobile workload -- another way to sell vSphere server software. In this respect, the company is partially correct.

However, VMware is the poster child of what I believe remains the major impediment to the eventual success of the DV market: the lack of end-user benefit messaging. VMware still perceives this as data center technology, and pushes an IT-centric sales message.

Ultimately,VMware's vision is to put its desktop hypervisor between the hardware and the operating system, in very much the same way it has on the server. That vision may be some years away, if ever; though I imagine it's never far from management's dreams. Or lips.


Like Citrix Systems, Microsoft also has a full stack of DV technology. However, Microsoft has trouble scaling -- both in terms of number of users and over slower connections.

As one would expect, Microsoft can outfit a DV server farm on Hyper-V. Yet to solve its scalability problems, the company has been handing VDI leads of 100+ seats (or those using slow connections) to Citrix Systems for the past year or so. Microsoft is clearly comfortable with this, as it has been giving Citrix Systems leads for large TS installations for about 10 years.

However, that exclusive VDI relationship has come to an end. Quest Software has recently joined the Microsoft lead party.

My opinion is pretty straightforward -- Microsoft must field a compelling entry in DV, and do so very soon. Its current product line is materially behind both VMware's and Citrix Systems', and it has a relatively short window (no pun intended) of opportunity to gain mindshare in this race. Its new partnership with Quest Software will help, but Microsoft must get serious about pushing its vision of DV, before VMware gains any more advantage.

Quest Software

Quest Software has a very strong, hypervisor agnostic VDI offering; it runs on Hyper-V, vSphere, and others. However, the company has neither a stand-alone TS or AS offering.

What Quest Software does have (notably) is it removes the scalability problems of Microsoft's VDI and TS offerings. In other words, to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, "[Quest Software] completes [Microsoft's DV suite]." When partnered with Microsoft, it's easiest to think of vWorkspace as an enterprise add-on for Microsoft's TSand VDI Suite.

In my opinion, the addition of vWorkspace on top of the Microsoft VDI Suite gives that partnership almost as full and scalable a solution as Citrix Systems, and easily on par with VMware. It at least gets Microsoft into the DV major league.
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