My new thing for 2015 is going to be something amazing! Something spectacular!  Something like #Supermultihyperconvergedpodstack.  Try saying that 5 times fast!  Seriously, as we look at the landscape of the 2nd half of 2014 and into the first half of 2015 it is clear that the 2 major players are both in an escalation war to create stacks of technology bundled together in a hybrid software/hardware package that can be easily sold.  Much like hardware exploded outward and then back in on itself as converged, the software stacks seem to be experiencing a similar move.  Both Citrix and VMware have made several key acquisitions to further define their positions.  Citrix most recently acquired Sanbolic to help fortify their WorkSpace Pod offering in conjunction with HP’s Moonshot platform.  Now they can argue they have a real alternative to VMware’s EvoRail and vSAN technologies.  VMware on the other hand purchased Immidio, an EUM software suite to give their suite an EUM/profile management option that they really lacked before.

Think about the world 3 years ago… Many of us were building Win 7 XenDesktop on top of HP BL460s with ESX 5 and NetApp storage.  That’s 5 different vendors without even counting any network gear!  What both Citrix and VMware seem to be driving towards is less throats to choke when things go wrong.  And as an Enterprise customer I think that’s a completely awesome philosophy.  Too many times I’ve had to get 3 or more vendors on the phone at once to deal with an issue and inevitably it turns into a circle of finger pointing, log files being gathered for each technology independently, and too much time to recover from an outage.

So what do I think about both acquisitions?  Well, in truth I like them both from a strategy standpoint and dislike them both from personal experience with both technologies.  I will preface this by saying it’s 3 years since I used any Sanbolic technology and 2 since I took a hard look at Immidio.  I am sure things changed.  That said, everyone I knew that used Sanbolic’s Melio tossed it out.  One of the primary use cases for Melio was in accelerating and load balancing PVS installations and I can’t tell you how many times it caused machines to blue screen for me and several other people that I know.  I liked the concept but the execution fell totally flat.

On the flip side I’ve talked to many people who actually used and like Melio so it’s very possible things have improved with them.  And Citrix immediately released an updated reference Workspace Pod design incorporating Melio into the stack.  What I STRONGLY hope Citrix does is take the very smart people from Sanbolic (many of whom came from Citrix originally) and use them not just to create a better pod but to improve lots of facets of their technology.  Starting, I hope, with PVDs.  I have talked before about my dislike for PVDs and how I feel both Unidesk and AppVolumes offer a superior experience.  Perhaps with some real storage expertise coming in Citrix can make PVDs flexible and most important stable!  It’s been many years since the purchase that brought Citrix PVD technology, and it’s time to make it shine.

On the VMware side the Immidio acquisition I think will have less of an immediate impact.  Immidio itself was a fairly simplistic EUM package when I last POC’d it and honestly I don’t know anyone that ever bought it.  It felt very much like RES (the GUI in particular was similar) but without some of the more advanced features.  Looking over the latest docs I still would have considered them a second tier EUM product compared to say RES and AppSense.  That’s not a bad thing though because I think they are flexible enough to allow Harry and team to integrate them into the existing stack with less effort.  I know they had a decent customer base also so it will be interesting to see how those now transition and how much if any Immidio will continue to be supported for non-VMware stacks.

So 2015 is very much off to a bang!  I’m looking forward to Synergy and hope Citrix can delivery a really strong vision this year.  VMware came out swinging last August and it’s time for Citrix to counterpunch.


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