“Citrix?? They let you in here?” chortle chortle nudge nudge. Thus began up to 75% of my conversations with passers-by, customers, analysts, and even VMware employees. While some might truly wonder why Citrix would be at VMworld (and I hope most were saying it in jest), it’s certainly no secret to us or VMware. We are both customer focused, and our customers have asked (demanded actually) that we work together. And, it’s not the first time.

Writing this blog feels like a bit of nostalgia, really. When I came to Citrix through the NetScaler acquisition in 2005 Citrix and VMware were BFF’s. In fact, going back as far as 2002 there are still recorded memories of those halcyon days:

Along with VMware ESX Server, Citrix MetaFrame XP provides a robust infrastructure for the delivery of client applications to any device by transferring management of the local client desktop to the data center – saving customers significant time and money on application maintenance, hardware upgrades, help desk support and training.”

The more things change… Swap ESX Server with vSphere 5 and MetaFrame XP with XenDesktop and presto! We’re back to the future. Except now everyone expects us to disavow each other because we bought XenSource and VMware built View. Well, I honestly think vSphere 5 is a great product. In fact, the only knocks I hear on vSphere from the industry are the comparative expenses associated with the business model and the inconsistency of the licensing framework. I think these irks resonate with the VMware fan club as well, but they feel that the price is worth it – and I respect their opinions.

Back to VMworld 2011 – I was shocked by how many Citrix customers came up to our booth and thanked us for acknowledging that Citrix XenDesktop runs on vSphere. There were also many non-Citrix customers that prior to the show didn’t even know that XenDesktop supported vSphere, and those are the folks who I think were most pleasantly surprised.

So let’s talk..

If you look at some of the features both XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5 provide you’d swear our architects exchanged notes under the virtual curtains. My favorite example of this is the new network I/O controls in vSphere 5 that allow the configuration of multiple resource pools with higher or lower bandwidth priorities (and limits) which when used with XenDesktop’s HDX MultiStream can give administrators extremely granular Quality of Service control over groups of desktop users.

I was inspired when customers came to up to me with different tips and tricks for optimizing XenDesktop on vSphere – and I’m going to work with our consulting team to get some of these added to our best practices. But it was even cooler when VMware vSphere architects started coming by and talking to us about “doing stuff together, but like.. under the covers because, well.. you know”.

As John Fanelli wrote in his blog last week, both XenDesktop 5.5 and vSphere 5 represent the very best technologies our respective companies have put forward. At Citrix we encourage choice and believe our customers know what’s best them. Our goal is to ensure that our products are flexible and optimized for every environment, so if you’ve standardized on vSphere/ESX for server virtualization, XenDesktop 5.5 is the best VDI solution for you. Same goes for Hyper-V and XenServer.

So VMware, listen up: We’re open to working with you guys.. Let’s embrace coopetition! We consider your creation of the vSphere for Desktops license as an official invitation to the dance, so please consider this our nod & curtsey. Thanks for inviting us to your show and treating us with respect and dignity. We plan to continue the conversation on the best VDI solution for vSphere in Coppenhagen, and would love to see you at Synergy Barcelona. We’re following each other on Twitter, so drop me a line.