VMware Boosts Desktop Virtualization Expertise with Desktone Buy

The acquisition gives VMware a cloud-based desktop-as-a-service platform to offer organizations as an alternative to its VDI solution.

VMware is expanding its desktop virtualization capabilities with the acquisition of Desktone and its cloud-based desktop-as-a-service offering.

The Desktone acquisition enables VMware to offer an alternative to customers who might not want to invest in the upfront or ongoing costs associated with the vendor's on-premises virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. It also gives VMware a fuller portfolio of desktop PC options for businesses dealing with such trends as increasing mobility within the enterprise. It also further pushes them into what is a growing desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) market that includes vendors such as Citrix Systems.

No financial details about the acquisition, which was announced Oct. 15 at the VMworld 2013 Europe show in Barcelona, and has already closed, were released. VMware officials said they plan to use Desktone's capabilities with their own Horizon View desktop virtualization software.

"With this acquisition, VMware instantly becomes a leading provider of desktop-as-a-service with the opportunity to set the course for the entire industry moving forward while placing VMware ahead of the competition in this category of cloud computing," Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager of end-user computing at VMware, wrote in a post on the company's blog. "The combination of the Desktone DaaS platform along with VMware Horizon View will significantly accelerate VMware’s DaaS strategy and further extend the benefits of desktop virtualization by offering an excellent choice for organizations looking for predictable economics, flexibility of cloud deployment or a way to deploy VDI with limited resources or in-house expertise."

Desktone offers a cloud-based platform that service providers can use to deliver Windows desktops and applications as a service, and which is designed to give users a good PC experience while enabling businesses to avoid the capital and operational expenses associated with in-house VDI offerings, according to VMware officials.

The Desktone platform offers multitenant capabilities, ensuring performance reliability and security by giving each customer a separate virtual environment. Organizations also can easily provision virtual desktops from the cloud without having to buy hardware or software. In addition, the platform offers a grid-based architecture for greater scalability across multiple regions and data centers, and the open-source-based technology means no Microsoft licensing fees or third-party software, helping to drive costs down.

VMware's Poonen said that the "explosion of mobile devices, mobile and web applications, and increased interest in the cloud is driving businesses to re-evaluate their desktop strategy. As cloud adoption quickly gains acceptance, the market is ripe to leverage cloud technologies to deliver alternative desktop management and application delivery solutions and provide customers with a more flexible, predictable and streamlined way to evolve end-user computing."

David Johnson, an analyst with Forrester Research, applauded the move, saying the acquisition will be good for both VMware and its customers. He also said that it legitimizes the burgeoning DaaS market and provides organizations interested in a cloud-based desktop service with more options.

"With Citrix also developing their own homegrown DaaS infrastructure offering for service providers, this move further legitimizes the DaaS market," Johnson wrote in a post on the Forrester blog. "Because user experience is paramount for service providers to succeed with DaaS, Citrix is a compelling choice. Until now, VMware didn't really have an answer to Citrix's strategy, so Desktone launches them into the service provider market with a proven platform."

Interest in DaaS is growing, he wrote. In surveys over the past two years, Forrester analysts have seen corporate interest in DaaS gaining speed, with 11 percent of those surveyed in the third quarter saying they planned to implement a DaaS solution within the next 12 months, and another 12 percent saying they planned to do so in a year or more. Both essentially doubled the interest seen in 2012, and equaled the results of those who had plans to implement a VDI solution.

Johnson said the interest is not only being driven by businesses and vendors, but also infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers that see an opportunity to make more money from their current infrastructure investments.

The analyst expects VMware's acquisition of Desktone and Citrix's continued development of its Project Avalon initiative to help fuel competition in the space. Some smaller vendors—including tuCloud, DinCloud and LeoStream—already are in the market. Johnson also said that Microsoft could become a player, given its Azure cloud platform, Hyper-V virtualization technology, Server 2012 and Windows desktop experience. In addition, he noted, "they hold the strings for the Windows licensing model."