With Microsoft's Help, VMware Looks To Take Bite Out Of Citrix's XenApp Business


VMware, in a bid to boost its end-user computing business and take share from rival Citrix, is bundling application virtualization technology with its virtual desktop software for the first time.

On Wednesday, VMware unveiled Horizon 6, a product slated for launch in the second quarter that uses Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services (RDS) technology to deliver hosted apps and session-based desktops to any type of device. It also includes VMware's own desktop virtualization and management software.

By adding RDS to the mix, VMware is going after Citrix XenApp customers that might prefer to buy technology for running virtual desktops and apps from one vendor.

[Related: Sources: VMware Building 'Project Mystic' Converged Infrastructure Appliance For EMC ]

VMware developed Horizon 6 using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services technology and public APIs, Sumit Dhawan, vice president and general manager of desktop products in VMware's End-User Computing unit, told CRN in an interview prior to Wednesday's launch.

This is a notable development, not only because Microsoft and Citrix have had a close relationship for years, but also because VMware and Microsoft are fierce rivals in the server virtualization market.

While VMware's Fusion and Workstation teams have experience delivering Windows apps to multiple platforms, Microsoft played an important role in the development of Horizon 6, Dhawan said.

"We were surprised by the level of collaboration we got from Microsoft," Dhawan told CRN. "Microsoft's RDS platform really helped us. We didn't have to invent this from the beginning."

Dhawan said Microsoft helped VMware when it ran into problems when building RDS into Horizon 6. "I give them kudos for acting like a platform company," Dhawan said.

VMware, which poached Dhawan and his colleague Bob Schultz from Citrix last November, is in the midst of a major push to boost its end-user computing business. It's not much of a leap to say that Dhawan and Schultz brought an intimate knowledge of Citrix's weaknesses to their new employer.

Bundling application virtualization with Horizon 6 could present further problems for Citrix, which is already tasked with trying to replace popular longtime CEO Mark Templeton, one Citrix partner told CRN.

That said, the session-hosted options in Horizon 6 are still in a 1.0 stage, as client printing is weak and there is no session sharing, said the source. Citrix's XenApp is still a technically superior product, but Horizon 6 could now be considered "good enough" for many organizations, the source said.

Meanwhile, VMware also is touting the "universal workspace" it has built into Horizon 6, where users log in once and get access to virtual desktops and apps, SaaS apps as well as physical PCs. And the new Horizon 6 client lets users access virtual desktops and apps running on-premise or in the cloud, which is another new and important capability.

NEXT: How VMware Is Managing All Of These Technologies