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March 19, 2010
The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) battle is getting aggressive. The latest move involves Microsoft and Citrix ganging up against VMware, hoping to switch VMware customers over to VDI solutions that leverage Microsoft and Citrix virtualization technologies. Microsoft is also changing its Windows licensing model to potentially speed VDI deployments. Here’s the scoop.
At first glance, Microsoft offers some compelling research and case studies about its latest VDI moves. But did a little deeper and you’ll find Microsoft and Citrix making a special offer to VMware’s customer base. Deep within a press release Microsoft and Citrix mention:
Microsoft and Citrix Systems are offering the “Rescue for VMware VDI” promotion, which allows VMware View customers to trade in up to 500 licenses at no additional cost, and the “VDI Kick Start” promotion, which offers new customers a more than 50 percent discount off the estimated retail price.
Eligibility and other details on the two promotions can be found at http://www.citrixandmicrosoft.com.
Now, two big questions from The VAR Guy:
Are channel partners and their customers ready for VDI?
Are channel partners and their customers ready to dump VMware for Microsoft?
The VAR Guy’s best guess… On item 1, the answer is a definite yes for many customers and partners. On item 2, Microsoft and Citrix will continue to face an uphill battle against VMware. Here’s why.
As The VAR Guy pointed out in 2009, our resident blogger expected 2010 to be the year of VDI.
Microsoft seems to agree — as long as customers don’t abandon Windows. The software giant claims customers using a Microsoft virtualization technology called Microsoft App-V achieved a 27 percent labor savings, and equivalent cost savings of $82 per PC per year, in application life-cycle management compared with those not using application virtualization.
That’s a fancy way of saying Microsoft wants to find new ways for customers to use Windows 7 and Office 2010. One prime example involves the forthcoming launch of Office Web, a SaaS version of Microsoft’s office suite. Office 2010 enterprise customers will be able to host Office Web within their private enterprises, once the suite launches later this year. In stark contrast, Google doesn’t allow customers to host Google Apps on their own.
Are any customers buying into Microsoft’s VDI strategy? Apparently yes. In a prepared statement, Expedia Inc. says it’s looking to virtualize about 90 percent of its applications, and hosted desktops will likely involve about 30 percent of the company’s user base over time.
Eager to trigger more VDI customer wins, Microsoft is changing its Windows desktop licensing model.
“Beginning July 1, 2010, Windows Client Software Assurance customers will no longer have to buy a separate license to access their Windows operating system in a VDI environment, as virtual desktop access rights now will be a Software Assurance benefit.”
Translation: Microsoft is telling customers and partners to keep using Windows 7 client licenses even as they move to VDI environments.
No doubt, Microsoft and Citrix will grab their share of the virtualization market. But will there be a massive migration from VMware to Microsoft-Citrix?
Doubtful. Here’s one reason why: During a recent discussion with a fast-growing storage company, a top industry executive noted that VMware is proven and continues to save businesses millions of dollars in the datacenter. Even if Microsoft undercuts VMware on price, the executive noted, VMware still delivers cost savings and is proven in global 2000 companies. So, the executive expects most customers to continue depending on higher-priced VMware options rather than lower-priced emerging alternatives.
Interesting theory. The VAR Guy tends to agree with it… though The VAR Guy never underestimates Microsoft.
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