I have to admit that this in response to a blog posted by Brian Madden couple of days ago. In his blog Brian did three things:

  1. Create some news and controversy – as always he seem to have done well
  2. Compare Citrix’s shipping product with VMware’s ‘experimental’ technologies
  3. State that do not invest in VDI because of the competitive alternatives that are available in the market through 2010 and we don’t know the who the leader will be then.

I usually enjoy reading Brian’s blogs because he always looks at the best interest of the customer and doesn’t get influenced by announcements and technologies that are not real. However, in this case – I have to say that he missed the mark on few things. Brian is the last person I had expected to get caught up in the land of vaporware and public announcements; so I thought I’d get the record straight.

  1. Citrix shipping product vs. experimental technologies - There is a lot of confusion in the desktop virtualization market already. And broad announcements regarding ‘experimental’ technologies has created some of the confusion. Citrix, on the other hand, has been focused in getting success with XenDesktop product in the market and we are seeing some great results; thanks to all of our loyal customers who are putting their trust in a solid product and moving forward with hundreds or thousands of hosted virtual desktops. At Citrix, we have taken a more conservative view point in going public with our ‘experimental’ technologies in this market. However, that doesn’t mean that we are not working on the future technologies; in fact, we have a robust roadmap that we continually discuss with our customers around different use cases. Our vision is to deliver a desktop to all enterprise users including mobile and offline use case. We are working with customers to align our vision and strategy with customer requirements. As appropriate, we will make short-term and long-term announcement of our vision and product releases.
  2. VDI or Desktop virtualization – be all end all - We all love technology and want to talk about how technology will get better overtime. However, when it comes to client computing, I urge each one of you (including Brian) to think about the use cases. Is XenDesktop not a good fit for anyone today? False. Like I said, we have customers who are implementing the technology for hundreds or thousands of users. It is designed and built for delivering a desktop to an office worker (corporate office, branch office or home office) who does all his/her work when connected to the network. That is about 50% of total workers worldwide. Is offline or check-in/check-out a requirement for that user? – NO. Example – I deal with two financial advisors (an inside sales person and a field sales person). The inside sales person is always working when connected and can be using XenDesktop and the field sales person needs offline access and cannot. Those of us who can figure this out will have no problem in cutting the cost of desktop computing for your office workers TODAY!
  3. Offline worker - Is Citrix doing anything about offline workers? First of all, we ship the best technology for the offline workers today – XenApp. XenApp enables you to have offline virtual applications, simplifying application management (addressing the biggest offender of cost and complexity). Again, we have customers using the technology TODAY for their mission critical mobile worker use cases – packaging their applications once and then flexibly delivering them to users using any device anywhere. In addition, we are investing heavily on local desktop virtualization technologies where two desktop OS can co-exist on the same device in order to increase the overall security of the mobile workers with laptops and further improve manageability of the desktop OS. Again – we are taking the use case based approach here. We are looking at the needs of a mobile worker who has either a corporate owned laptop or a personal owned laptop (BYOC) and delivering a solution that provides three benefits:
    • Enhance data security by protecting the data with a layer of virtualization
    • Further simplify desktop lifecycle management – by having a single image across multiple types of devices and centralized image management technologies
    • End user flexibility – by enabling them to pick any end point device while delivering the desktop anywhere

Let’s look at the mobile user use case – these users will be using their laptop device and the latest version of OS, apps and user settings must be available to them anytime anywhere, including when they are offline. The only time they will be accessing a desktop in the data center is when they don’t have access to their laptop device (traveling, emergencies, etc.). So, the whole concept of check-in and check-out is an incorrect model. In fact, I’d argue that the check-in/check-out model is antiquated. We are no longer used to going to libraries and checking-in and checking-out books. Instead, we use iTunes to automatically synchronize what we need on our iPods for offline use and most of us use automatic synchronization. That’s what the right solution will need to be – dynamic synchronization, rather than static check-in and check-out, and that’s what Citrix is designing and building. 

In summary, I urge each of you (including Brian) to start thinking about the use cases rather than technologies. There are some great technologies out in the market that help you address your challenges for your use cases TODAY – leverage them. Don’t wait until 2010 – there will be some other vaporware then!  Consider three different use cases (task workers, office workers, mobile workers) and map out your technology requirements based on the following high level goals that you should accomplish: 

  • Lowest cost of ownership
  • Maximum flexibility and agility
  • Data security 

There are a couple of myths that have propogated in the industry – VDI – one size fits all (NOT TRUE) and desktop is just another workload on the hypervisor (again NOT TRUE – think users and use cases instead).  

Of course, I am going to close by saying Citrix can help!