I think this is my 6th or 7th VMworld. As most IT alumni can attest, they all seem to run together after awhile. I have some cloudy recollections of a few different weeks in Vegas, a road trip in a van full of servers, and even interviewing for my position here at Citrix while literally setting up a booth in the Sands expo hall. My colleagues from the past 14 years of virtual desktop computing have been distributed throughout the virtualization ecosystem, so needless, to say, this is old-home week. But not just because of my past, but also because I’m surrounded by VMware customers who have deployed the industry leading desktop and application virtualization solution for vSphere, Citrix XenDesktop.

Still, I have never felt more at home than this week at VMworld. The End-User Computing keynote sounded very much like it could have been out of the Citrix Executive Briefing Center, but there are some notable exceptions. Here are a few of the things I heard from VMworld:

“VDI isn’t the answer to all user desktops.”

Wow. After years of VMware selling a hammer and treating every desktop user as a nail, it’s great to hear the change in positioning. VMware addresses this revelation with their Wanova acquisition, which is a bit dramatic… Either virtualize and centralize with a VM, or manage physical desktops with infinite layers and knobs. Sure, you can centrally manage, but it’s two completely different management paradigms, and there is no indication when these come together. Meanwhile, Citrix has been offering and integrating multiple desktop delivery models with years of experience deploying at scale. If you understand the importance of flexibility and choice in desktop delivery models with tight management integration, the announcements we’re planning for Synergy Barcelona are going to knock your socks off.

“Apps are important, but the first release of AppBlast is to deliver desktops”

OK, so I’m paraphrasing a bit. For the past year since AppBlast was first announced and never shipped, we learn that AppBlast isn’t about apps, it’s actually yet another protocol. (YAP, for short) So not only has VMware been trying to play catch up with HDX performance and peripheral compatibility, but now it is investing in YAP. I can certainly understand the draw to an ubiquitous HTML5 client, low cost to develop with one development team, cross platform, etc., but as with any cross platform “standard” the best they can do with AppBlast is a lowest common denominator feature set. The Citrix Receiver strategy of implementing HDX natively on any platform with which a user walks in the door is expensive to develop and test, but our customers have been winning and we don’t have to worry about changes and forking in the “standard.”

“Yes, Apps really are important.”

Again, paraphrasing, but once again I couldn’t feel more at home as VMware announced support for the most ubiquitous app-delivery platform on the planet, Citrix XenApp. Now, it’s unclear why our customers would buy Horizon just to provision and broker connections to XenApp when they could use Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager or the native XenApp tools in use today managing millions of users on a daily basis. However,  VMware rightly recognizes that you can’t have a solution for meeting the needs of a mobile workforce without delivering apps. Unfortunately, none of that is available today from VMware, but we would love to show you Citrix CloudGateway,  which allows to  get desktops, Windows apps, native mobile apps, mobile secure email, data and single-sign-on web and federated SaaS apps all from a single platform. It is shipping (like hotcakes I might add).

 “Cloud is about virtual infrastructure administration.”

On the first day’s keynote, there was a lot of talking by execs, a cool announcement about Flash Resource Pools in vSphere 5.1, a self-congratulatory announcement about listing to customers and repealing the vRAM tax, (can you say AWKWARD?) and some talk about vCloud Director which looked a lot like vCenter except more complicated. I thought Cloud was about automation? Anyway, I then went over to see my colleagues in the Citrix Cloud group where they showed me a catalog of services with pricing estimates and then provisioned a new vSphere 5 cluster in about 20 seconds with Citrix CloudPlatform. OK… now I get it.

So, it’s been another year at VMworld. The industry is alive and well with customers buzzing, and a wealth of innovation coming from new startups in the ecosystem. Old-home-week is fun, but it’s never been a better time to be at Citrix.