Yesterday was Memorial Day here in the US and like most Americans I sat outside at a BBQ enjoying some amazing weather with friends and family. For reasons I can’t remember I started a conversation with my dad about our first computer, a Tandy 2000.
My dad is a former Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, spent most of his time on the Nimitz and I had a few questions about why we had this computer. For one, until recently I only knew my dad welded for the Navy, it was only a few years ago that I learned what he welded: Nuclear reactors. Regardless, I would imagine the pay for a First Class Petty Officer in the late 70’s, early 80’s, wasn’t that much, so when I saw the advertisement above I couldn’t get over that this computer cost $3000 ($8631 in 2014 money). So I asked my dad if it was his job that provided the computer and the conversation went something like this:
Dad: Which computer? I had two.
Me: You had two computers?
Dad: Yes, I kept one in my office at work and another at home.
Me: So you spent over 6k for two identical computers in the 80s?!
Dad: I guess so.
Turns out the Navy has a paper trail for everything. As my dad says, “we were always on alert, so it was drill, drill, drill.” Drills have a lot of paperwork and my dad noticed that most of that paperwork was the same, but it was a very manual process of recreating nearly identical paper trails for every single drill. The tools of the day were paper and pen (maybe a typewriter), and as my dad recalls computers were extremely foreign but he had a knack for typing.
Instead of creating a document from scratch that was 90% identical to the last document he wrote, my dad created what any of us today would just consider a template. He then would pull up this template and make minor changes to it to handle the onslaught of paperwork.
“The computer didn’t just put me ahead of the competition, it put me light-years ahead” my dad smiled as he sipped on his root beer. “I had a lot of commanders sucking up to me because I could type and I could get this stuff done now, now, now. The problem was getting access to the computer was problematic because everyone wanted to use the ships only computer, so I went out and bought one for the ship and one for the house. Having a computer at home made it so I didn’t have to stay on ship to get my work done, I could take it home and be with my family, change my clothes and smoke.”
It seems obvious to us now that a computer would be faster than pen/paper/typewriter but this was not obvious in the 80’s when a computer was something from the movies. I think some people around my dad must have thought he was crazy with the kind of money he spent (my dad also admits to me that he just thought it was cool and he liked to fool around with it – now I know where my wasteful spending on random gadgets comes from). My dad just wanted to work better and to have a better work/life balance. What’s crazy to me is this was 35 years ago but this is the same story we hear every day today.
I have talked to many organizations that are still trying to get off of Windows XP. While I don’t think XP is the equivalent of a pen/paper, I do think it shows us what we already know: enterprises today are laggards of technology. I don’t think this will ever change. The most we can hope for is that enterprises start designing for flexibility (in what we call People-Centric design). Instead of designing rigid systems, IT becomes a launching pad for innovation by getting out of the way and enabling their employees.
That’s a much larger ask than most enterprises are ready to embrace today, but as my dad’s story shows, technologies that can completely transform the way we work can happen at any level… even the lowly private.
A few weeks back I had the honor to keynote the first GPU virtualization summit at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC). While I felt the weight of kicking this thing off on my back, the real weight was trying to start off a summit when there were heavy weights in the room such as Ruben Spruijt, Benny Tritsch, Steve Greenberg, and my arch nemesis Shawn Bass. In all seriousness, this room was a collection of some of the smartest people in the industry and I was honored to be among them.
In my presentation I shared where GPU virtualization stands in the industry today, how Citrix, Microsoft and VMware compete, and to top if all off, I gave a lot of video evidence so the audience could see the technologies for themselves. Typically when I present at a conference the content is only shared with those that went to the conference, however this conference opened up the video for the public to see so I figured I’d share this on my blog for your viewing pleasure. As a side note, one thing I find funny in listening to myself is that the room had so many experts in it if I doubted myself I just looked to the person in the audience, asked my question, and got my answer on the spot. It was a very different experience than my traditional presentation, I hope you enjoy.
PS the first 30-seconds has poor sound but they fix it.
Anyone that has seen me present in the past two years has listened to me rant about the high cost of desktop virtualization and I did not hesitate to put the blame directly where it belonged: storage vendors. We’ve seen some crazy numbers at Gartner, upwards of $1000 per desktop for storage alone! Every time I hear that number I think of Seth and Amy on SNL doing the #Really skit.
Now I know this is a Citrix thing but here’s the deal; Desktops are desktops, storage is storage, and I don’t care if you use Citrix/VMware/Microsoft/Dell/Virtual Bridges/etc, If you are deploying thousands of virtual desktops, largely the overhead is due to Windows not due to the agent these VDI vendors run inside the VM. So with that in mind, take a look at the whitepapers they share. They provide detail for each storage vendor and they show LoginVSI tests (this is pretty much the de-facto standard in scale testing VDI environments) and they give details on the IOPS used and how much it cost.
For the lazy reader I created a comparison chart below, this is all public info that you can read yourself in the link above, I just consolidated the details I care about most, mainly price and performance.
*Please note: I did my best to make this accurate but I may have made a mistake (I’m human and this is just a blog not official Gartner research). If you see one let me know and I’ll update the graph. You can check all of these facts by reading the whitepapers yourself, if the mistake is in the whitepaper, tell the vendor. I noticed a few errors in the paper myself.
*The graph is sorted from least expensive to most expensive
Everyone I know has asked for it and today it’s finally here: VMware has finally shipped a SBC product!
For those that can’t keep up with acronyms let me help you out. SBC stands for Server-based computing… still not following? How about RDSH (Remote Desktop Session Host) or RDS (Remote Desktop Services) or TS (Terminal Services)? Honestly I don’t care what you call it, the deal is multiple users log into a single Windows Server and get a private session. It’s been around for over a decade, it’s what I cut my teeth on in this industry and VMware has finally released a viable product.
So why should anyone care about VMware releasing a product that I just told you has been around forever. For one, we all know by now VDI is not a silver bullet technology. Right now VDI adoption is teetering around 5% of total enterprise market share, and if you are in the group of orgs using it you tend to find a sweet spot of usage for about 20-30% of your organization. SBCs market is much bigger and VMware just entered it… but Citrix created it.
The story goes that somehow in the 90s Citrix has able to secure the source code for Windows NT and they redesigned the OS to support multiple sessions on the same OS. This was typical in Unix mainframes but had never been done for Windows. Microsoft then bought the code back from Citrix and released Windows NT Terminal Services. Microsoft and Citrix spent the next decade being best of buddies.
Over those years many other vendors would attempt to copy the magic that Citrix created, after all Citrix just sat on top of Windows Server so why can’t some startup create a new product that competes with Citrix? Some vendors came and went, others are still around nipping at the heals. Largely though Microsoft itself has pushed to make RDS a pretty good platform without the need of Citrix (I cover this in “Can Windows Server 2012’s RemoteApp Replace Citrix XenApp?” if you are interested). But as far as I know no vendor had ever really created a product that fully competed with Citrix. Instead most vendors took shortcuts that allowed them to create a competitive product that just made RDS a little bit better.
What VMware has done in Horizon 6 is create a true competitive product to XenApp. I’m not talking about every check box under the sun, because frankly, it’s a safe bet that Citrix is going to have a lot of checkboxes (features) for just about every uses case you can think of and VMware will take some time to fill in those checkboxes. The reason I think Horizon 6 is a true competitor to XenApp is that they are the first product I’ve ever seen that has done the leg work to create a 3rd Party Protocol Provider for RDS.
What is a 3PPP, it’s the official way to create a protocol that works with RDSH. It’s how ICA works with RDSH to bring you XenApp, or how RDP works (but RDP wouldn’t be third party). Up until now, any vendor in this space has not done the work to create a true 3PPP interface instead most products I’ve seen have just either used virtual channels on RDP or they’ve done some transcoding of RDP. Let’s take a look visually at the difference in the major products I’ve taken a look at:
The jist of how this works is that Windows talks to a graphics driver which then takes all the content being created and encodes it into a protocol. Microsoft uses its own protocol, RDP, Citrix uses ICA/HDX, VMware uses PCoIP/Blast, but check out Ericom does:
In the case of Ericom Blaze all they do is compression of the protocol and they build some customized Virtual Channels (which is a function within RDP). As RDP improves the need for a 3rd party to make RDP better becomes less necessary. Also, this approach means you are at the mercy of Microsoft for most of the stack, you can merely improve it a bit. (Take a look at my “Microsoft RemoteFX (RDP8) Protocol and User Experience: In-Depth Assessment” if you’re interested in why I think adding additions to RDP isn’t as big of a deal as it was with RDP7).
Microsoft and Citrix own the graphics driver and the can use this information to make sure the right information is passing into the protocol for remote delivery. Maybe I’m being too nerdy here but think about the power you have when you literally have control over the content before its rendered, talk about an efficient way to remote Windows content. VMware has taken this same approach and it’s the approach that I believe will make a big difference for them in the long run.
I know a lot of credit will go to a lot of the new hires at VMware but what I see here is a product that has been a long time in the making. So congrats to whomever it was inside the walls of VMware that stayed the course over some major changes in VMware EUC, and congrats to the new hires that continued to invest in this product. While it remains to be seen just how well this product will compete with XenApp, I’m glad to see that VMware invested heavily to make it a real race and not just another “me too” product.
Congratulations aside, VMware just entered a race that Citrix started many years ago. Good luck to all, and I for one am glad to see a little fire in the mostly ignored SBC market.
PS: After you are done reading this blog on the annoucement take a look at Brian Madden’s Blog, he looks at other details, and isn’t all nerdy about 3PPP like I am.
I was preparing a blog for later this week when I went on a tangent about acquisitions in the EUC space. Instead of including that in my blog I decided just to post this blog and let it be a reference for me for future conversations. I’ll try and keep this updated as things change. If I wrote something wrong please reach out to me on twitter or in the comments.
List of EUC Acquisitions made by Citrix/VMware as of April 2014.
Physical Endpoint Management
Ardence: Now Provisioning Server. Allows for a central image for a virtual or physical desktop to be PXE booted. (Single Image Management)
Wanova: The Mirage product allows for a central image and applications to be centrally managed in different “layers”.
Zenprise: Now XenMobile and an MDM tool that scores well on Gartner’s MQ.
AirWatch: Another MDM that scores well on Gartner’s MQ
Xen Source: This is an old one but still worth pointing out that Citrix spent close to half a billion investing in Xen, created a XenServer product which is now open source.
No acquisition required, VMware pretty much created this market.
None… yet… and that’s a big YET. Citrix is going to have to do something here.
Virsto: Not sure I can say this is now VSAN but I’m sure many of these technologies are making its way into the VSAN product.
None; however there are whispers about how the XenDesktop road-map will bring in multi-tenancy.
Desktone: A appliance based multitenant broker that was designed from the ground up to be cloud
If Citrix acquired this it was too long ago for me to remember, but long story short they have it.
RTO Software: Basic persona management.
RingCube: Allows adding a layer to an image so users can install software.
See Wanova above
Mobile File Sync
ShareFile: An enterprise Dropbox/Box competitor.
VMware built a home grown MFC solution called Horizon Data (previously known as project Octopus).
Client Hosted Virtual Desktops
Virtual Computer: Now called XenClient. This software lets you install VMs on an end point workstation using a client side hypervisor.
See Wanova above. Then think how that would tie in to VMware Workstation/Fusion.
FrameHawk: A protocol that works surprisingly well over terrible WAN links.
Teradici: The PCoIP protocol that drives a high end user experience over various connection times. (Important to note this is NOT an acquisition but an OEM partnership).
Over Christmas break my mind was flowing with great ideas for what I was going to do in 2014. I was fired up to do podcasts, video blogs, debate panels, then I got back to work and got a lot of extra stuff put on my plate (not pointing fingers but this is completely Chris Wolf’s fault). So alas all my great ideas went to the way side, luckily I had already shot my first video blog and after about a month of a delay I finally got around to finishing the edits on it. So without further ado I give you my first video blog on why we struggle with Windows application management.
After watching the blog I want to point out something I didn’t say: What I’m suggesting here isn’t a new idea, I talked to some of our analysts and they shared with me that they suggested this in 2007! Also, I think its interesting to that if you look at how mobile OSs are designed, they follow this model.
I really want to talk about the Framehawk acquisition in this blog but I don’t feel I can write a blog this week without at least addressing these announcements. To all the new appointments I say “congratulations”, its the beginning of the year, so changing jobs is fairly typical this time of the year. These are all great fun announcements that I could write a whole separate blog about but lets get into the one announcement that is related to a tangible EUC technology: Framehawk.
I have heard over the past few years that this is the “year of VDI” I think we’ve all come to realize there will never be a “year of VDI” but I do think 2013 was the year VDI became simple. The tech nerd inside of me doesn’t want this. I got into VDI because it was extremely challenging, I got to be a storage/networking/hypervisor expert. You’re good at server virt? Ha! Try virtualizing a desktop; bet you never tried to get a DVD to burn using a remote protocol over a sat link with 1000ms latency. VDI was my tech nerd utopia, no matter where you looked there was something difficult that had to be fixed. I get bored if I’m not challenged, VDI was a perfect challenge that constantly kept me on my feet. [Read more →]
I just got off a vendor briefing with Amazon Web Services on their Workspaces product and I compiled a list of frequently asked questions that I thought I’d post in my blog. I hope it helps those of you that are looking for answers. If there are any I didn’t ask please let me know in the comments or on twitter. [Read more →]
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