Goldman Sachs' decision to plunk down $70 million in venture capital funding for 12-year old virtualization vendor AppSense surprised some industry pundits, but virtualization solution providers can understand the attraction.
AppSense specializes in user virtualization technology, which allows employees' user settings and personal workspaces to be moved easily within virtualized desktop environments. The technology helps IT standardize desktop builds and application delivery and saves time by eliminating the manual copying of files in desktop migrations.
AppSense fills some of the gaps that exist in current desktop virtualization solutions, and the company seems to understand that companies are taking their time in adopting the technology, says Dan Weiss, CEO and co-founder of Varrow, a Greensboro, N.C.-based solution provider.
"Not everyone can move immediately to virtual desktops -- it's a gradual process," Weiss said. "There are other good user virtualization solutions out there, but they don't meet all of customers' needs to the extent that AppSense does."
Liquidware Labs and Quest Software are other key players in this space, but the big players have also been moving to fortify their user virtualization offerings. VMware last February acquired RTO Software, one of its OEM partners, in order to better manage user profiles in virtualized desktop PC environments, but the integration into VMware View is taking longer than some partners expected.
Microsoft, which uses the term user state virtualization, has built the functionality into Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions. Citrix, meanwhile, has built its own profile management functionality into XenDesktop.
Matthew Trottier, virtualization practice lead at Daymark Solutions, a Burlington, Mass.-based VAR, says there are still some key obstacles to desktop virtualization that vendors need to deal with. "Getting the remote desktop protocol (PCoIP) to work more efficiently over the WAN, streaming profiles of user desktops and management thereof is the final piece that needs to mature to make VDI a real solution for the masses," he said.
AppSense plans to use Goldman Sachs' investment to build out its global infrastructure, operations, global presence, technology, sales and marketing, and the company is recruiting channel partners as part of its expansion. In Weiss' view, this is a shrewd strategy.
"Desktop virtualization is going to take hold through the channel," he said. "Manufacturers just don't have the bandwidth, or the ability to scale."