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.
$1000 for just the storage on 1 desktop!!!
Well the good news is that so long as you don’t blindly buy the storage some sales guy tells you to buy, chances are good you can solve VDI storage woes. In fact Citrix recently created a Citrix Ready VDI Capacity Validation Program for Storage Partners that I think has some of the best information you can read if your considering a VDI deployment.
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, I’d highly recommend you take a look at the whitepapers they share. They give excellent 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 →]
Amazon announced this week that they are offering their own Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering. Before I dig into this let’s set the record straight: technically speaking there was absolutely nothing new in this announcement. [Read more →]
It’s time for me to admit something; while I have been sharing quite a bit in blogs and research lately around high end graphic technologies with virtual desktops, I’ve been quiet on some fronts, specifically shared graphics technologies. The reason I haven’t said much is that I haven’t been impressed by most of the technology that’s been out there. I have known for the past two years that better technology is coming so I decided to focus on the good news (typically GPU pass through technologies) as it became public and not blog or tweet, or just rant about what I really want, because up until now what I want didn’t exist. [Read more →]
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