I’m writing this blog in response to the recently published Miercom XenDesktop 5 vs. View 4.6 VDI report. If you’re here to read that report rather than my meanderings, I won’t make you wait.

In a previous blog I wrote about all the ways we might respond to a competitive third party report. So I thought this time I would write about the ways to proactively write a competitive report. The goal of competitive reports is to provide employees, customers, and prospects with factual data to enable them to make a decision about the best product for their needs. The keys to doing this are:

1. Find a silver bullet – Identify that one thing that is absolutely necessary for customers to realize the benefits of using your class of product that your competitor spends all their marketing dollars trying to gloss over.
2. Drive the message home – Explain in plain language what the customer benefit is and why it’s so important.
3. Make sure your tests are documented, fully transparent, and easily repeatable – Give the readers all the information they need to reproduce your results.

The beautiful thing about working on XenDesktop is that I can walk into any competitive bake-off and “sweep the leg” on View by bringing in a WAN emulator and running a real workload against their product. When I say this to analysts, press, customers, prospects, and my little daughter, I usually get blank stares in response. Surely he must be joking, they think to themselves (except for my daughter who proceeds to tackle the cat in celebration). It can’t be that easy, can it? Yes folks, let me unveil the deep dark truth:

The secret to a successful VDI implementation is: Happy and productive users, no matter where they are working from or what device they are working on.

Happy users need to comfortably use their virtual desktops without knowing anything about what VDI is, what the protocol behind it is, and why it’s better. That onus falls to the administrator. A great virtual desktop needs a great protocol to deliver it. Without a great protocol all they’ve got is an excuse to say “VDI isn’t for us”. VMware had to outsource their VDI protocol – most recently to Teradici who has a UDP-based protocol called PCoIP, originally built for delivering dedicated blade server desktops to dedicated clients over the LAN (the original name of the product was PCoIP 1:1).

But the WAN is a different story; UDP is a big, hungry, inconsiderate protocol. There’s no real way to optimize UDP once it’s in your pipe, you can optimize the TCP traffic around it, you can prioritize it with QoS, but given the opportunity it will just clog up whatever portion of the pipe you give it. Don’t want to take our words for it? This had been a long standing industry problem because VOIP is traditionally UDP traffic, so in the WAN space there’s been a minor gold rush to try and optimize it. The best summary of it I’ve found is in this Riverbed whitepaper. Their best suggestion for optimizing UDP traffic is to add WAN bandwidth through your telecom provider. So what I’m saying here is that the only way to make View competitive with XenDesktop over the WAN is to add massive dedicated WAN capacity. Nobody is going to want to do that – it takes the value proposition for VDI and defenestrates it.

I’m not going to spend the rest of this blog penning a love letter to Citrix HDX and why it’s amazing at traversing insane network conditions (even more so with Branch Repeater in the mix – have I mentioned it comes standard with XenDesktop Platinum?), but the proof is in the pudding.

Which brings us back to the Miercom report. The proven takeaway for employees, customers, and prospects is: When it comes to real WAN scenarios, there’s no situation in which VMware View is competitive to Citrix XenDesktop. Take a minute to read their report. Every test is completely documented and repeatable. The tools they used are affordable and easily available. They conclude:

Citrix XenDesktop 5 had an overall better QoE [Quality of Experience] for the end user when compared to VMware View 4.6. User experience is smooth, clear and responsive even with various network impairments. We saw the opposite with VMware View. QoE is degraded as different network impairments are introduced. Users can experience blurriness, slow application loading, and frame loss when watching flash video.

Now, I recognize that “technical marketing” is viewed by most people as a contradiction in terms, but our CEO likes to call our breed “digital to analog converters”. That is not necessarily because he sees us as pieces of hardware with blinking lights and glowing tubes, but rather because to be in our shoes means to spend the early part of your career neck deep in engineering only to one day realize that you are the person the engineers call upon to speak to “the others”, and you actually enjoy treading the line between lulz and LOLs.

In this case, that joy is the ability to bring to market a whole bunch of geekery that we’ve been avoiding talking about because we felt it might be “too technical” for our audience. But I decided to go for it, because we may be differentiating ourselves with FlexCast and Desktop Transformation when we talk to CxO’s – but I know what admins really care about: Which one of these VDI solutions is going to make my users happier and more productive regardless of where they are or what devices they use?

(Hint: The answer is XenDesktop)