Microsoft and VMware have been engaged in a snippy back-and-forth over virtualization for the past couple of years, and a new Microsoft-Citrix joint promotion is further inflaming partisan passions on the issue.
Last week, Microsoft and Citrix unveiled their "Rescue for VMware VDI" promotion, which lets customers trade in their VMware View software licenses for the same number of Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses, free of charge. The promotion, which runs through the end of the year, is open to Microsoft customers with Core Cal or E-Cal with Software Assurance.
VMware has been using View, its desktop virtualization software, to sell its server virtualization technology, but some customers haven't been able to deploy it successfully, according to Sumit Dhawan, vice president for Citrix XenDesktop at Citrix. The "rescue campaign" gives customers a way out and underscores the maturity of the Microsoft-Citrix desktop virtualization offering, he said.
Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, an Oakland, Calif.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, supports the aggressive stance that Microsoft and Citrix are taking. "This stabs right at the heart of VMware on where they have been trying to hit Microsoft around the whole VDI story," he said.
However, Morimoto notes that a skills gap exists with regard to actually deploying Microsoft and Citrix's virtualization technology.
"The Microsoft partner community doesn't have the training to go do Citrix VDI stuff and, interestingly, we find a lot of the Citrix partners out there are the VMware partners working with the customers on VDI," he said. "So it's the purest Microsoft partners that really will help make headway on this promotion."
Tension between Citrix and VMware started when Citrix began offering free services around installing XenServer. It then escalated when VMware, in conjunction with AltTech, offered a trade-in from XenApp to View Premier. While the promotion is likely to propel the battle to new heights, VMware solution providers say marketing stunts don't change the fact that VMware's technology is superior.
"I think the 'rescue' nomenclature is rather silly," said Steve Kaplan, vice president of the data center virtualization practice at INX, a Houston-based solution provider. "While virtualizing desktops is certainly much more difficult from both a technical and social standpoint than virtualizing servers, VMware View leads the market with a vast number of very happy customers."
"Anyone who is seriously looking to deploy a virtual desktop solution needs to properly assess the environment and do a proof-of-concept on the solutions to see what fits their environment," said Patrick Cronin, principal at Kovarus, a VMware partner in Emeryville, Calif.
The architectures between Citrix and VMware are very different, and customers need to study their environments to determine which is better suited to their needs, Cronin added.
Meanwhile, Microsoft and Citrix are also running a "VDI Kick Start" promotion through the end of the year in which Microsoft customers with Core Cal or E-Cal with Software Assurance can get up to 50 percent off Microsoft VDI Standard Suite and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition.