For those of us that cover EUC for a living, this week has been chaotic. Let me give you the quick play by play:
Citrix: First announcement of Rakesh Narasimhan as the new Group VP and GM for Desktop Virtualization. I believe this was Bob Schultz’s position… but where did Bob go?
VMware: Announces two new hires in EUC (Bob Schultz and Sumit Dhawan) both x-senior leaders at Citrix. They also appoint a new CTO to EUC, Kit Colbert.
Citrix: Announces an acquisition of Framehawk
VMware: Announces Ben Fathi as the new CTO replacing Steve Herrod who left VMware last year. Same day Andre Leibovici leaves VMware for Nutanix (Andre is a well known technical name in the EUC community).
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.
Gabe Knuth did a great write up on the Framehawk acquisition that gives his take on how he sees Citrix using this tech. What you may not realize is, so did I:
Okay so maybe that isn’t a comment on the acquisition but it is a full on research paper I did comparing Framehawk to Citrix and VMware’s technology. Shameless plug I know. The thing is I set out to learn about how Framehawk/Citrix/VMware empower Windows applications on mobile devices, but what I learned was 1) I don’t really like legacy Windows apps on tablets (no big surprise) 2) The major value of Framehawks isn’t in its UI on an iPad, its in its protocol.
I’ve written a lot on protocols here at Gartner, in case you are interested here is a list:
- User Experience Comparison: Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp, VMware View and Microsoft RDS/VDI Protocols
- Citrix ICA/HDX Protocol and User Experience: In-Depth Assessment
- VMware View With Teradici PCoIP: Protocol and User Experience Assessment
- Microsoft RemoteFX (RDP8) Protocol and User Experience: In-Depth Assessment
Notice there is no Framehawk protocol paper. That’s because I never really considered it when I spent a half of year of my life writing those papers. Who would? ALP, Spice, Blast, these are protocols I’d consider adding but Framehawk? Never even cross my mind, until I started writing about them for other research.
While I was writing my Windows App on Mobile Devices research I got to play around with the Framehawk technology. In my traditional fashion I pulled out my Apposite WAN emulator (lots of videos on youtube of me doing RDP/ICA/PCoIP tests with this thing) and I put Framehawk behind it, I was impressed but didn’t really grasp just how well this protocol handled poor networking conditions until I went to the Framehawk office last year. If you follow me on youtube you may remember this visit because I shot a video:
I liked some stuff and pointed out same flaws in the video so in fairness I’ll point out Stephen Vilke’s response to my video.
The video speaks for itself. Framehawk’s protocol has some magic sauce when it comes to challenging network conditions.
What does this all have to do with Citrix acquiring Framehawk?
Let’s look at a quote from my research:
“ICA, PCoIP and RDP8 all suffer on WAN connections, with latencies above 150 milliseconds (ms) and packet loss above 1%. RDP8 and PCoIP seem to handle this scenario better than ICA due to the TCP nature of ICA, which reduces the effective bandwidth when loss is present and increases the effective latency because of transmissions. Consequently, ICA uses less bandwidth in these scenarios, but this comes at the cost of a degraded user experience.”
I go on to say in the ICA/HDX paper:
“Citrix should consider further development of its UDP channel. UDP is for audio only; however, other vendors have enhanced video and image traffic by using a UDP stream.”
It just so happens that Framehawk’s LFP protocol is UDP based. Nothing like an acquisition to support my argument. 🙂
Framehawk does have other IP, such as its UI for iPad which is a bit stronger than Citrix’s. But over all, I see this acquisition solely focused on one thing: User Experience. Citrix’s Derek Thorslund definitely sees the benefits of the Framehawk user experience, as he pointed out in his blog today.
That’s not to say that Citrix won’t take some cues from Framehawk on the iPad UI, but overall I see this acquisition as a strong move from Citrix to shore up some weaknesses in its ICA/HDX protocol.
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