VMware View 3 Release Looks to Compete Against Citrix for Virtual Desktops

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-12-02

VMware View 3 Release Looks to Compete Against Citrix for Virtual Desktops

VMware has launched the latest version of its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure suite, called VMware View, which includes new features and tools for better management of physical and virtual clients, storage, and enterprise applications.

VMware View 3, scheduled for release Dec. 2, includes existing products, such as VMware ThinApp and VMware Infrastructure, and new tools such as View Composer, which helps manage storage resources in a VDI environment.

The release of the latest version of the VMware View suite comes as VMware is planning a major revision of its desktop virtualization efforts in 2009. At the VMworld conference in September, CEO Paul Maritz called this new initiative VMware vClient. The VMware vClient initiative is part of several new virtualization offerings that could give VMware greater control of the data center.

What VMware hopes to do with VMware View and vClient is allow a user to access his or her corporate desktop image from a range of devices, including traditional desktop PCs, laptops and even smartphones, while at the same time delivering the security and resource management benefits that come with a VDI environment.

"What we are doing here is moving toward solving what Paul and the company now call the 'desktop dilemma,'" said Raj Mallempati, a marketing manager for VMware. "What we are doing with VMware View is looking to meet the end user's requirements, which calls for a personal desktop that can follow them across different devices and across different networks. At the same time, this type of solution provides IT with a very simple and cost-effective way to manage different devices and desktops."

Although VMware remains the leader when it comes to virtualization, Microsoft and Citrix Systems are now considered serious competitors to VMware in the x86 virtualization market that it dominates.

While x86 virtualization has mainly focused on consolidating physical servers and new ways to think about disaster recovery, virtual desktops are being viewed as the next area ripe for this type of technology. When it comes to the desktop, however, VMware is mainly competing against Citrix and its XenDesktop and XenApp products.

Red Hat is also seen as a competitor in this market thanks to some acquisitions earlier in 2008.

New Tools in VMware View 3


VMware View 3 is a move to close the gap between what Citrix is offering with XenDesktop and XenApp. The VMware View suite offers existing products such as VMware ThinApp for application virtualization and VMware Infrastructure for managing the virtual environments in the data center.

View Composer, one of the new tools included in the suite, is supposed to better manage storage resources through linked clone technology. With linked clones, an IT department creates one desktop image and then the resources of the operating system are shared through other, individual cloned images, which saves data storage resources since each desktop images does not need its own operating system.

While linked clones share virtual disk resources, the individual desktop images are independent of the master images as well as of each other. The IT department can use the ThinApp tool to deliver different applications to individual desktops.

Another new tool, Offline Desktop, allows the user to work with his or her virtual desktop offline, and that information is then synchronized when the user plugs the PC back into the network. (VMware lists the Offline Desktop tool as only an experimental feature.)

In addition to these improvements, VMware is working with a number of other companies to improve the user interface and desktop experience for workers using virtual desktops. These partnerships include deals with Wyse Technology for use of its TCX software, which enhances the abilities of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol, and Teradici, a Canadian startup that uses ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) microprocessor technology and has developed what it calls "PC over IP."

While VMware, Citrix and other virtualization vendors bring more and more VDI products into the market, the major obstacle for IT department continues to be cost. Natalie Lambert, an analyst with Forrester Research, wrote in an email that with View 3, VMware has tried to address some of the cost concerns related to creating a wide-scale virtual desktop infrastructure.

"Anything, from a technology perspective, that vendors can do to decrease the capital costs necessary to implement desktop virtualization will truly help drive the technology forward," Lambert wrote. "This release, from both a capital and operational cost perspective, lowers costs over VMware older VDI solution.

VMware is offering the VMware View 3 suite in two editions. The Premier Edition, which does not include the View Composer tool, sells for $150 per concurrent user. The Enterprise Edition, which includes View Composer, sells for $250 per concurrent user.

Editor's Note: This article was updated to include comments from an analyst.

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