Would you build a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean or a jumbo jet in the middle of the air?  Would you design a car starting with the transmission or a new computer application starting with the operating system?  No, nein, nunca, nyet, never… whatever the geography or culture the answer is the same.  So why would you design a next generation client virtualization system starting with the servers?  Uh… I dunno?  But this is exactly the pretense behind the coalition of EMC, VMware and Cisco.  They call it VSphere for Cloud implementations and now VBlock for Enterprise.  Take a datacenter and virtualize the servers.  Take the storage arrays and provide management utilities.  Drop some routers and VoIP controllers into the mix and there you have it… a complete virtualization system… or a completely backwards way of providing a usable architecture for client side virtualization.  Oh yeah… after you do all of this, then all you have to do is bolt on a few thousand Virtual Machines for the users and everybody will be happy.  How preposterous!

Who exactly is this system designed for?  It surely isn’t the end user so it must be for the IT group.  But if you believe what industry pundants are saying today, virtualization is all about the end user and client side of the equation.  To paraphrase from Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch, “IT is becoming irrelevant becuase it doesn’t meet the needs of the end user.”  So how is it that EMC, VMware and Cisco have missed the fact that IT is evolving into a Service where the end user defines the requirements and the system is built around user needs?

Have we somehow gone backwards in time?  In the 70’s the buzz word for new systems was Man-Machine Interface.  That evolved in the 80’s and 90’s to Human Factors Engineering.  In 2010 there are a dozen specializations for learned behavioral affects regarding how people interact with software applications.  In fact, one could argue the single most prolific transformation of this science in this decade is evidenced in the design of the iPhone, which takes into account touch screen technology and human behavior for communications and small form factor information creation and dissemination.  That approach has been relatively successful… don’t ya think?

Is it the telco network, or storage process that makes the iPhone the hottest selling device on the planet today?  Did Steve Jobs wake up one day and tell all of his design teams, “Hey I’ve got an idea, why don’t we see if we can build a really fast and effective IT data center and then surely all of the users in the world will be happy with a kludged up interface that was an afterthought of the design”?  Well the answer is obvious.  If you are building a system for common people to use, you better start with what THEY want, not what makes data centers easier to manage.

Citrix has been designing client virtualization systems for 20 years now.  The core of the technology started with what will make it easier for common people (we call them users in the IT world) to have access to their applications from anywhere, on any device over any network.  Users require this on demand application delivery. By starting with this approach (and enhancing the technology for the past 20 years) we have created the world’s best client virtualization environment.  And the reason we have over 230,000 customers servicing over 100 million people with our client virtualization technology is that we have always taken into account the way in which the end user works.

Normally I wouldn’t be so callous about our competition in this space.  But my blood began to boil when I watched the triumphant (EMC, VMware, Cisco) get up at a conference I attended last week and tell an audience of 700 IT Managers that VBlock is the only way to deliver IT-as-a-Service and no other vendors have “real” product.  Come on guys, are you kidding me?  Welcome to 2010 EMC, VMware and Cisco.  You guys need to do your homework before you so boldly tell the world you’re the best at something you’ve never done before.